Altimmune Aims to Tackle Obesity with Pemvidutide

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Written By Keziah Monique Gayo

Altimmune acquired Pemvidutide (formerly ALT-801) through its 2019 acquisition of Spitfire Therapeutics. Pemvidutide is a peptide-based dual GLP-1/glucagon receptor agonist designed to combat metabolic conditions such as obesity, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH or MASH).

Given the rising prevalence of obesity and related metabolic disorders, pemvidutide has the potential to be a significant player in this therapeutic area.

Mechanism of Action

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Pemvidutide works by enhancing caloric expenditure, adipose browning, lipolysis, and activating liver fat. It also manages appetite and reduces inflammation with favorable gastrointestinal (GI) tolerability.

The drug aims to expedite weight loss, potentially halting and reversing the progression of NASH/MASH and improving comorbidities such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Type II diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

Clinical Trial Results

Altimmune has reported promising clinical results for pemvidutide:

  • Phase I Trial (2021): Conducted in overweight and obese patients with a minimum BMI of 25 kg/m², the trial demonstrated significant weight loss across different doses. At 12 weeks, the 1.2 mg, 1.8 mg, and 2.4 mg doses resulted in average weight losses of 4.9%, 10.3%, and 9.0%, respectively, compared to 1.6% in the placebo group. Improvements were also observed in blood pressure, serum lipids, and insulin resistance. Importantly, there were no serious adverse events, and no patients discontinued due to adverse effects.
  • MOMENTUM Phase II Trial (2023): Over 48 weeks, the 2.4 mg dose led to an average weight loss of 15.6%, with some patients losing up to 87.1 lbs. Notably, 74.5% of the weight loss was from body fat, with significant reductions in BMI and improvements in serum lipids and blood pressure.
  • NAFLD Phase Ib Trial: Showed improvements in liver fat content, ALT levels, and corrected T1 (cT1), with all patients in the 1.8 mg and 2.4 mg groups showing reductions in liver fat to undetectable levels after six weeks of treatment.

Competitive Landscape

The metabolic medicine field is rapidly evolving, with GLP-1 agonists like Novo Nordisk’s Wegovy and Eli Lilly’s Zepbound gaining prominence. Pemvidutide’s dual receptor agonist mechanism offers a unique approach, potentially mitigating the muscle mass loss often associated with GLP-1 agonists.

This could be particularly advantageous for elderly patients or those with sarcopenia. Moreover, pemvidutide’s ability to address both obesity and NASH/MASH positions it uniquely in the market.

Market Potential

The global obesity market is projected to reach $131 billion by 2028. Similarly, the NASH market is expected to hit $48 billion by 2035. Pemvidutide’s ability to improve multiple metabolic and cardiovascular parameters could make it a significant contender.

The drug has the potential to tap into various markets, including cardiovascular disease, dyslipidemia, and chronic kidney disease (CKD), further broadening its commercial potential.

Financial Outlook

Altimmune has a solid financial position, with $182.1 million in cash and equivalents as of Q1 2024, expected to sustain operations through the IMPACT trial and into 2026. The company is actively seeking a partner to enhance its capabilities and expand pemvidutide’s potential applications.

Investment Thesis

Altimmune is poised for significant growth, with pemvidutide potentially transforming it from a small-cap biotech to a billion-dollar entity. Analysts project substantial revenue growth, with optimistic estimates suggesting the drug could achieve blockbuster status.

However, investors should consider the inherent risks, including competition, financial sustainability, and the high stakes of relying heavily on a single drug candidate.

Risks and Considerations

Key risks include:

  • Competitive Pressure: The weight loss and NASH/MASH markets are becoming increasingly crowded, with several competitors potentially outperforming or reaching the market first.
  • Financial Sustainability: Although well-funded for now, Altimmune may need additional capital to bring pemvidutide to market, which could dilute current shareholders.
  • Clinical and Regulatory Uncertainty: Any setbacks in clinical trials or regulatory approvals could significantly impact the company’s prospects.

Compelling Opportunity in Growing Metabolic Medicine Market

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Altimmune’s pemvidutide presents a compelling opportunity in the growing metabolic medicine market. With encouraging clinical data and a solid financial base, the company is well-positioned for future success. However, investors should remain cautious, keeping an eye on competitive developments and potential financial needs.

The next 12-18 months will be crucial in determining pemvidutide’s ultimate market impact and Altimmune’s long-term trajectory.


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