Novo Nordisk’s investigational drug liraglutide improves blood pressure, lipids and biomarkers of cardiovascular risk in patients with type 2 diabetes, according to Phase II results presented at the 42nd Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) in Copenhagen.

Although these results must be further investigated in larger Phase III studies, they are a boost for Novo Nordisk, especially on top of other Phase II results reported at the American Diabetes Association meeting in June, demonstrating positive effects for liraglutide on blood glucose, weight loss and the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas.

Liraglutide is an analogue of glucagon-like peptide-1, a gut hormone that plays an important role in blood glucose regulation. Given by once-daily injection, liraglutide is likely to be launched in 2009, when it may have to compete with the once-weekly formulation of Eli Lilly and Amylin's Byetta (exenatide) that is currently in development.

Liraglutide will also face stiff competition from the DPP-IV inhibitors sitagliptin (Novartis) and vildagliptin (Novartis). These drugs not only have the advantage of oral dosing, but their likely imminent approval also means that they should be well established in the diabetes marketplace by the time that liraglutide is launched.