Amgen antibody combats obesity, diabetes in monkeys

Amgen ($AMGN) has an interesting new weapon in the battle against obesity. The company's scientists successfully used an antibody they discovered to make obese monkeys thinner, and also lower their levels of insulin, glucose and triglycerides.

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Bloomberg offers a great summary of the study, which is detailed in the journal Science Translational Medicine. In short, the overweight monkeys lost 10% of their body weight. But according to the story, plans aren't set yet when, or whether, Amgen will start testing the antibody, mimAb1, in humans. As the article notes, however, the results point a possibly new way to treat humans with diabetes and obesity.

More animal studies are needed before they reach that point, however, and there are no guarantees that the results can be repeated in human trials. That said, the Amgen researchers have a new drug with promise if subsequent testing can repeat the initial results, and ultimately prove the compound is safe to use. Their antibody is meant to mimic FGF21, a metabolic hormone in humans that regulates both glucose and lipid metabolism. Previous studies have shown that mice bread to produce FGF21 in abundance remained thinner and lived longer (though their bone density declined), the article explains.

But researchers haven't succeeded in making a drug out of FGF21, because its effects only last an hour or so, according to the story. But mimAb1 could be a much more viable drug because it lasted over a period of weeks after just two injections during the 11-week trial.

Obesity drugs don't get approved very often. According to the Bloomberg story, Vivus' ($VVUS) Qsymia and Arena Pharmaceuticals' ($ARNA) Belviq, both approved this year, were the first to gain the FDA's nod to treat obesity since 1999.

- read the Bloomberg story
- here's the journal abstract

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