AstraZeneca drops another GLP-1 after phase 1 data bust market-beating diabetes hopes

Two months after dropping one of its GLP-1 agonists, AstraZeneca has decided to scrap its remaining clinical candidate. A preliminary analysis of the phase 1 data convinced the company that the drug would not outperform the competition.

The candidate, dubbed AZD0186, had been undergoing a phase 1 study in Type 2 diabetes. The Big Pharma had high hopes for the oral therapy, which it had believed could “provide greater efficacy and tolerability than other assets currently in development or available,” a company spokesperson told Fierce Biotech this morning.

While the drug had remained in AstraZeneca's pipeline for its first-quarter earnings report in April, “new data has emerged that show AZD0186 does not meet that ambition and the development programme has been terminated,” the spokesperson told Fierce.

That same April earnings announcement saw AstraZeneca’s other clinical-stage GLP-1 agonist, called cotadutide, removed from the company’s pipeline. The pharma took the candidate into a phase 2/3 nonalcoholic fatty liver disease trial last year but later stopped enrollment after recruiting 45 patients, well short of the targeted 1,860.

Having dropped the daily cotadutide, AstraZeneca said at the time that it would focus on its weekly GLP-1/glucagon candidate AZD9550, which remains in preclinical development.

It leaves AstraZeneca well behind in the GLP-1 race just as other Big Pharmas look to get in on the action. Last week, Merck & Co. teased phase 2 data that suggested that its candidate efinopegdutide could beat Novo Nordisk’s Ozempic in nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. 

While AstraZeneca's GLP-1 ambitions appear to be far from the clinic for the time being, the company told Fierce that it has “other assets that are currently under investigation that we believe will meet” the same goal of taking on the established GLP-1 players. One notable example would be AstraZeneca’s $85 million deal with Quell Therapeutics earlier this month to collaborate on engineered regulatory T-cell therapies candidates, including a “one and done” cure for Type 1 diabetes.

AstraZeneca’s spokesperson also pointed to AZD6234, a long-acting amylin in a phase 1 trial for obesity that’s due to complete in October.