USA— Viking Therapeutics announced on Tuesday that its experimental weight-loss medication helped overweight and obese patients shed up to 15% of their body weight after 13 weeks of treatment in a mid-stage trial.  

The medication, known as VK2735, represents a potential rival to Novo Nordisk’s Wegovy and Eli Lilly’s Zepbound, demonstrating a more significant reduction in body weight compared to either medication during clinical trials. 

VK2735, an injectable therapy, operates by stimulating two insulin-stimulating hormones: GIP and GLP-1. Its mechanism mirrors that of Lilly’s tirzepatide, approved for diabetes and obesity treatment under separate brand names. 

The positive outcome suggests that Viking’s medication could challenge Lilly and Novo’s prominent drugs in a market projected to reach $90 billion annually by 2030. 

 Investors responded favorably, boosting Viking’s market value by over $3 billion on Tuesday morning, sparking speculation of a potential takeover. 

 However, Wall Street analysts caution that a larger Phase 3 trial is necessary to validate Viking’s therapy’s benefits. 

Viking disclosed data from a Phase 1 trial of VK2735, where participants receiving the highest tested dose lost nearly 7.8% of their body weight over a four-week period. 

Information from the Phase 2 trial offers a broader understanding of the medication’s potential. The study enrolled 176 overweight or obese individuals with at least one weight-related medical condition, randomized to receive one of four VK2735 dosages—ranging from 2.5 to 15 milligrams per week—or a placebo. 

Results from the trial indicated that participants on the lowest dosage lost an average of 9.1% of their body weight, approximately 7.4% more than those on placebo. Viking reported that weight reduction effects increased with higher doses, with statistically significant findings. 

A notable downside, however, is the prevalence of side effects, particularly at higher doses.  

Among participants on the highest medication dose, one-fifth discontinued the study early. Of those receiving that dose, 29% experienced vomiting, and 63% reported nausea—common side effects of medications like VK2735. 

Andy Hsieh, an analyst at William Blair, expressed confidence in Viking’s developmental trajectory for its weight-loss drug. He remarked, “The outcome reflects a best-in-class profile among approved and investigational agents with Phase 2 data.” 

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