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Viking Joins Obesity Drug Development Race with Early Study Data

The pharmaceutical industry has long been in search of effective treatments for obesity, which is one of the biggest health challenges of our time. While lifestyle modifications such as diet and exercise are recommended as the first-line therapy, they are often ineffective for many people. Therefore, drug developers have been investing in novel approaches to address this growing problem. Viking Therapeutics, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, is one of the latest entrants in this race, and it has recently reported promising results from its early-stage study of a novel drug candidate.


Obesity is a complex and chronic disease that affects millions of people worldwide. According to the World Health Organization, more than 650 million adults were obese in 2016, and this number is projected to rise in the coming years. Obesity is associated with numerous comorbidities, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain types of cancer, among others. Therefore, effective treatments for obesity are urgently needed to improve public health outcomes and reduce healthcare costs.

Current Treatment Options

The current treatment options for obesity include lifestyle modifications, pharmacotherapy, and bariatric surgery. Lifestyle modifications, such as dietary changes and exercise, are recommended as the first-line therapy for overweight and obese individuals. However, these interventions are often difficult to sustain, and many people struggle to achieve and maintain significant weight loss. Pharmacotherapy, which involves the use of prescription drugs, is another option for people who are unable to lose weight through lifestyle changes alone. Currently, there are only a few FDA-approved drugs for obesity, and they have limited efficacy and safety profiles. Bariatric surgery is a more invasive option that is reserved for people with severe obesity or those with comorbidities that put them at high risk for complications.

Viking’s Approach

Viking Therapeutics is developing a new drug candidate called VK5211, which is a selective androgen receptor modulator (SARM) that targets the androgen receptor in muscle and bone tissue. The drug is designed to increase lean body mass and bone density while reducing body fat, making it a potential treatment for obesity and related metabolic disorders.

Early Study Results

Viking Therapeutics recently announced positive results from a Phase 2 clinical trial of VK5211 in patients with hip fracture. The study enrolled 108 patients who were randomized to receive either VK5211 or placebo for 12 weeks. The primary endpoint of the study was the change in lean body mass from baseline to week 12. Secondary endpoints included changes in fat mass, physical function, and safety.

The results showed that VK5211 significantly increased lean body mass by 4.5% compared to placebo, which was the primary endpoint of the study. The drug also reduced fat mass by 9.2%, improved physical function, and was well-tolerated by patients. These findings suggest that VK5211 has the potential to be a safe and effective treatment for muscle wasting and obesity.


Obesity is a major public health challenge that requires innovative and effective solutions. Viking Therapeutics is one of the latest entrants in the race to develop new drugs for obesity, and its early study data on VK5211 is promising. The drug’s mechanism of action and positive results in the Phase 2 trial suggest that it may be a viable option for people struggling with obesity and related metabolic disorders. However, further studies are needed to confirm its safety and efficacy, and it may be several years before VK5211 or any other novel obesity drug is approved for clinical use. In the meantime, lifestyle modifications remain the cornerstone of obesity treatment, and patients are encouraged to work with their healthcare providers to develop a comprehensive plan for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.

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