SEOUL (ANN/THE KOREA HERALD) – In a significant move towards combating obesity, Daewoong Pharmaceutical announced on Monday its ambitious plans to develop an innovative microneedle-based obesity treatment drug.
The South Korean pharmaceutical giant is setting its sights on a phase 1 clinical trial slated for the coming year, with aspirations to introduce the ground-breaking treatment to the market by 2028.
At the heart of this ground-breaking therapy lies a synthetic peptide known as semaglutide, closely mirroring the effects of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) – a natural gut hormone that triggers reduced appetite and insulin release in response to food consumption.
This development holds promise for addressing the pressing global health issue of obesity in an entirely novel manner.
The patch-type obesity treatment, measuring 1 square centimetre, will use drug-loaded dissolvable microneedles to penetrate the outer layer of the skin to deliver drug ingredients to the patient’s body. The company said patients will be able to easily administer the treatment and minimise injections-associated fears involving existing injection-type GLP-1 agonists.
“The patch-type obesity treatment will increase overall medication adherence of patients with obesity who have to take the treatment on a regular basis,” an official from Daewoong Pharmaceutical said. Daewoong Pharmaceutical said patients will need to use its patch-type obesity treatment just once a week.
Daewoong Pharmaceutical added the new treatment also aims to eliminate common side effects like skin swelling or lumps to improve the treatment experience.
For the development of the patch-type obesity treatment, Daewoong Pharmaceutical will also apply its own microneedle platform technology known as closed-packed aero-pressured microneedle (CLOPAM).
“While microneedles have been widely used in cosmetics, their application in medicine has been limited due to issues involving drug capacity and transdermal absorption. Daewoong Pharmaceutical’s CLOPAM technology is designed to ensure efficient drug delivery and minimise drug loss,” the official said.
Daewoong Pharmaceutical’s microneedle platform technology will allow patients to store and use the treatment at room temperature, the official added.
Daewoong Pharmaceutical’s microneedle platform has been developed by its research and development unit Daewoong Therapeutics. Daewoong Pharmaceutical has filed 23 patents in South Korea and registered six international patents for the microneedle technology. The company said it has received a proposal from a global pharmaceutical firm to develop other microneedle-based medications.
With the development of patch-type obesity treatment, Daewoong aims to enter the rapidly growing global obesity treatment market, it said. The global market for obesity treatments is expected to grow to KRW104 trillion (USD80 billion) by 2030, the firm said, quoting data from Morgan Stanley.
“Daewoong Pharmaceutical will push ahead with the development of the new patch-type obesity treatment for patients with unmet medical needs,” Daewoong Pharmaceutical CEO Jeon Seung-ho said.
Meanwhile, Daewoong Pharmaceutical is also conducting studies to develop its new diabetes drug Enblo as a potential treatment for obesity.