Eli Lilly and Company, pharmaceutical company headquarters in Alcobendas, Madrid, Spain.
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Eli Lilly agreed to pay versanis shareholders in cash, which will consist of an upfront payment and possible subsequent payments if Versanis achieves certain “development and sales milestones.”
Oakland, California-based Versanis, which was founded in 2021 by biotech investment firm Aditum Bio, has an experimental drug for obesity and potentially other conditions.
The deal is the latest attempt by Eli Lilly to capitalize on the weight-loss industry’s gold rush, which began last year after New Nordisk’The successful Wegovy and Ozempic injections increased his popularity.
An estimate 40% of American adults are obese. Analysts project that the global market for weight loss drugs could be worth $100 billion by around 2030.
The Versanis drug, bimagreumab, binds directly to certain cells in the body to reduce fat mass.
The company is studying bimagreumab in a phase 2 trial in overweight or obese adults, and in another trial comparing the treatment with Novo Nordisk’s Wegovy and Ozempic.
Bimagreumab works differently from drugs from Novo Nordisk and similar treatments from Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly. Those drugs, known as GLP-1 agonists, mimic hormones produced in the intestine called incretins to suppress a person’s appetite.
But Versanis said that combining bimagreumab with such incretin-based therapies could lead to better outcomes for people living with obesity and cardiometabolic conditions, including diabetes, kidney disease and disorders affecting the heart.
Eli Lilly is working on various treatments for obesity.
The company’s experimental once-weekly injection, retatrutide, helped obese or overweight patients lose up to 24% of their weight after 48 weeks.
That exceeds the weight loss caused by other obesity drugs.
Eli Lilly’s experimental obesity pill, orforglipron, also helped overweight or obese patients lose up to 14.7% of their body weight after 36 weeks.
The company is also pushing to approve its type 2 diabetes treatment, Mounjaro, for obesity.