Research ArticlesObesity

Unimolecular Dual Incretins Maximize Metabolic Benefits in Rodents, Monkeys, and Humans

Science Translational Medicine  30 Oct 2013:
Vol. 5, Issue 209, pp. 209ra151
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3007218

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“Twincretins”: Two Is Better than One

Despite obesity-linked diabetes approaching worldwide epidemic proportions and the growing recognition of it as a global health challenge, safe and effective medicines have remained largely elusive. Pharmacological options targeting multiple obesity and diabetes signaling pathways offer greater therapeutic potential compared to molecules targeting a single pathway. Finan et al. now report the discovery, characterization, and translational efficacy of a single molecule that acts equally on the receptors for the incretin hormones glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) and glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP). In rodent models of obesity and diabetes, this dual incretin co-agonist more effectively lowered body fat and corrected hyperglycemia than selective mono-agonists for the GLP-1 and GIP receptors. An enhanced insulinotropic effect translated from rodents to monkeys and humans, with substantially improved levels of glycosylated hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) in humans with type 2 diabetes. The dual incretin was engineered with selective chemical modifications to enhance pharmacokinetics. This, in combination with its inherent mixed agonism, lowered the drug dose and ameliorated the dose-limiting nausea that has plagued selective GLP-1 therapies. These dual incretin co-agonists signify a new direction for unimolecular combination therapy and represent a new class of drug candidates for the treatment of metabolic diseases.