Obesity Trial’s Striking Data Reaction – Why Investors Are Flocking to Altimmune (NASDAQ:ALT)

Gaithersburg, Maryland – Altimmune, Inc., a clinical-stage biotechnology company, experienced a rollercoaster journey in 2023 as its shares plummeted by 88% before climbing back up by 500% in the last three months of the year. These fluctuations were mainly in response to data emerging from an obesity trial conducted by the company. The negative reaction stemmed from a high dropout rate among patients using pemvidutide, while positive feedback was generated by promising results showing a reduction in LDL cholesterol levels compared to other GLP-1 therapies in the market. The significant interest in the GLP-1 space prompted a closer examination of Altimmune’s position in the market.

Altimmune, Inc. focuses on developing treatments for obesity and liver disease, headquartered in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Following the disappointment in March 2024 with its hepatitis B asset (HepTcell) failing in a Phase 2 trial, the company has concentrated its efforts on pemvidutide, a potential therapy for obesity and metabolic dysfunction-associated steatohepatitis (MASH). Altimmune, previously known as Vaxin and Immune Targeting Systems, went public under its current name in 2017 after merging with PharmAthene. The company now trades at around seven dollars per share, equating to a market cap of approximately $520 million.

The introduction of pemvidutide as a potential game-changer stemmed from Altimmune’s acquisition of Spitfire Pharma in 2019. This peptide-based therapy, a dual GLP-1/glucagon receptor agonist, shows promise in treating both obesity and MASH. With the global obesity treatment market expected to surge to $54 billion by 2030, the competition is fierce, with key players like Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly dominating the space with their respective medications. Altimmune has positioned pemvidutide as a viable alternative, showcasing positive outcomes in its Phase 2 trial MOMENTUM with significant weight loss and LDL cholesterol reduction.

The differentiation factor for pemvidutide lies in its ability to achieve substantial weight loss with a favorable impact on cardiac risk, setting it apart from existing therapies in the market. However, challenges remain, as high dropout rates due to adverse events pose obstacles for the drug’s widespread adoption. Altimmune’s Phase 3 trial for pemvidutide is expected to address these issues with a focus on titration and dose management to enhance patient tolerance.

In addition to its potential in the obesity space, Altimmune is also exploring the use of pemvidutide in treating MASH, a severe form of liver disease linked to obesity. The company’s Phase 2b trial (IMPACT) aims to evaluate the drug’s efficacy in resolving MASH or improving fibrosis, with promising early results indicating positive outcomes in reducing liver fat content.

Altimmune’s journey with pemvidutide showcases both the opportunities and challenges in the biotechnology sector. While the road ahead may be uncertain with fierce competition and clinical trials underway, the company’s innovative approach to addressing key health issues like obesity and liver disease is commendable. Investors and industry stakeholders will be closely watching Altimmune’s progress as it navigates the complex landscape of drug development and commercialization in the healthcare sector.