Takeda Pharmaceutical Co and partner Amylin are putting a new compound which shows promise as a treatment for obesity into late-stage trials.

The companies say that on the back of encouraging results from a 52-week Phase II extension study, the drug, which is a combination of Amylin’s diabetes drug Symlin (pramlintide) and metreleptin, is moving into Phase III. The decision to go forward comes after patients who continued treatment with the combo for first 28 weeks and then a full year demonstrated sustained weight loss, whereas those continuing on placebo regained almost all of their weight. “The most robust efficacy was seen in patients with a body mass index less than 35 kg/m2,” the partners added.

However, Amylin and Takeda also noted that they are halting development of another obesity treatment, called davalintide, after a Phase II trial showed it was no more effective than Symlin alone and was less effective than the pramlintide/metreleptin combination.

Christian Weyer, vice president of medical development at Amylin noted that “there is an enormous unmet need to help reduce the individual and economic burden of obesity,” and the two firms have high hopes for the potential new therapy. They signed the obesity pact, potentially worth over $1 billion to the US firm, in November last year.

This is a busy time clinically for Takeda which last week began a Phase III trial in Japan for Hematide, a peptide-based erythropoiesis-stimulating agent being developed with Affymax, as a treatment of anaemia in chronic renal failure.

The companies have been conducting a late-stage programme for the drug in the USA and the European Union and expects to file Hematide in the former later this year.