Lilly to help BioAge test muscle regeneration therapy in combo with weight loss drug tirzepatide

BioAge Labs has garnered the support of Eli Lilly to run a trial combining a muscle regeneration therapy with the Big Pharma’s tirzepatide for healthier weight loss.

While no financial details were disclosed, BioAge will conduct a phase 2 trial of its oral apelin receptor agonist BGE-105 (azelaprag) along with Lilly’s GLP-1/GIP receptor agonist tirzepatide, which is marketed for diabetes as Mounjaro. The main goal of the trial, which is expected to get underway in mid-2024, will be total weight loss with other goals examining additional potential benefits of the mechanism.

BioAge has previously linked the combination of azelaprag and tirzepatide to better weight loss than tirzepatide alone in preclinical mice models. The data has shown benefits in energy metabolism, increased insulin sensitivity and a reduction in fat mass, according to BioAge.

While drugs like semaglutide, which is marketed as Wegovy for treatment of obesity, and Lilly’s Mounjaro have been linked to significant weight loss, they can lead to muscle loss as well. Lilly’s partnership with BioAge seems to be an attempt to address this challenge facing the drug class.

Lilly will provide the tirzepatide for the study and offer the expertise of its Chorus clinical development organization, which helps biotechs develop assets from candidate through clinical proof of concept.

“Our Phase 2 trial is designed to assess whether azelaprag can substantially increase the weight loss achieved with drugs of the incretin class. This combination could enhance the performance of both injectable and oral incretin drugs,” said BioAge CEO Kristen Fortney, Ph.D. “The oral route of administration of azelaprag makes it particularly exciting as a combination partner for next-generation oral incretins currently in development. As an additional benefit, azelaprag may help promote healthier weight loss.”

BioAge previously presented phase 1b results showing that azelaprag prevented muscle atrophy and maintenance of muscle protein synthesis in health volunteers aged 65 or older who were placed on 10 days of strict bed rest.

Azelaprag, which can be given orally or intravenously, was licensed from Amgen in 2021.