Astra Zeneca and Palatin Technologies have halted a phase 1 trial of an experimental obesity drug after a participant in the study suffered a severe adverse event. The drug, known as AZD2820, is a melanocortin-4 receptor partial agonist. Mutations in the melanocortin-4 receptor have been associated with inherited human obesity, and is the most commonly known genetic defect predisposing people to obesity.
It is suspected that the participant may have suffered from an allergic reaction to the medication. A spokesperson with Palatin says the man who fell ill after taking the drug fully recovered and that the company “will work closely with AstraZeneca to investigate the cause of this incident and the overall plans for the AZD2820 program.”
The study involved 72 obese but otherwise healthy men, 11 of whom had completed their dosing regimen prior to the end of the trial. The study focused on the safety and tolerability of the drug after multiple ascending doses, which were injected in the abdomen. It compared AZD2820 to placebo.
A previous study on AZD2820 completed in November 2011, focused on the safety and tolerability of the drug after single ascending doses injected in the abdomen or thigh. That trial also involved only male participants. It was completed with no adverse events noted.
Though the latest trial on the experimental obesity drug was halted, AstraZenica announced it hasn’t given up on a promising melanocortin antagonist for the treatment of obesity. The company currently has a number of collaboration compounds in various stages of preclinical testing.