Last year’s approval of tirzepatide, the first dual incretin agonist, for the treatment of type 2 diabetes marked the beginning of a “new era of metabolic medicine,” according to Matthias H. Tschöp, MD, the recipient of the 2023 Banting Medal for Scientific Achievement from the American Diabetes Association® (ADA).
Dr. Tschöp is CEO at Helmholtz Munich and the Alexander von Humboldt Professor at the Technical University of Munich, Germany. He is a physician-scientist who has made a series of seminal discoveries that started with the identification of the circulating hunger hormone ghrelin from the stomach, revealing a fundamental metabolic signal. Dr. Tschöp’s subsequent discovery of novel classes of dual and triple gut hormone drugs continue to transform the fight against obesity and diabetes. In his address on Sunday, Dr. Tschöp discussed the journey of discovery in his lab and others in the ongoing quest to reverse obesity.
The session, Banting Medal for Scientific Achievement — Overcoming Obesity — The Discovery of Multi Receptor Drugs, can be viewed by registered meeting participants at ADA2023.org. If you haven’t registered for the 83rd Scientific Sessions, register today to access the valuable meeting content through August 28.
“Just a few years ago, all we had to offer for morbid obesity was bariatric surgery, like gastric bypass. And while we are not quite there yet, we are getting closer and closer to achieving the same efficacy with pharmacologics,” Dr. Tschöp said. “Indeed, the first triple agonist for treating obesity has been tested in a phase 1B trial, and initial data suggests that it is very potent in decreasing body weight.”
Results of a recent phase 2 trial are forthcoming, he said, as researchers continue to investigate the molecular underpinnings of multi-receptor drugs, including the triple agonists.
“Our discovery of triple receptor agonists established yet another class of novel therapeutics, which, at least pre-clinically and it seems, clinically, may outperform mono and dual agonists as highly effective obesity drugs,” Dr. Tschöp said. “There are numerous other multi-receptor drugs now being tested—at least a dozen in clinical trials and a couple more on the horizon. Some of these drugs, I believe, have the potential to transform metabolic medicine by overcoming and reversing the obesity epidemic.”
Dr. Tschöp anticipates continued breakthroughs and multiple developments toward precision medicine for the future treatment of obesity and diabetes.
“Beyond control of obesity, yet another generation of even more sophisticated therapeutics can offer metabolic precision medicine of the future tailored to the needs to specific subpopulations of patients,” he said.
Looking ahead, Dr. Tschöp and his colleagues are investigating several dual agonists designed for cell-specific delivery of small molecules that may even be applicable to diseases beyond obesity and diabetes.
“With such a pool of next-generation therapeutics, metabolic precision medicine of the future may become possible,” Dr. Tschöp said. “There is so much more to be done, but by getting obesity under control, dual and triple agonists, based on what we know today and if broadly available and hopefully sufficiently affordable, have the potential to slow down, if not reverse, the diabetes pandemic.”