Second death in Zafgen obesity trial

Dec 02, 2015, 3:12 PM EST
Source: Flickr - Daniel Lobo
Source: Flickr - Daniel Lobo
Zafgen, a biopharmaceutical company that focuses on obesity and metabolic disorders, has reported that a second patient has died in a late-stage trial of its experimental obesity treatment from a blood clot in the patient’s lungs. 
 
Bloomberg says that the company’s shares fell by more than half following that news that has highlighted the dangers associated with drugs that attempt to treat obesity. The drug, beloranib, is being tested for a rare genetic eating disorder called Prader-Willi syndrome. The results from the study are expected in the first quarter, according to Reuters. It is currently unknown if the blood clot in the patient was caused by the drug.
 
The news outlet says that another patient died in the trial of the drug in October of unknown causes, and following that first death, the F.D.A. placed the trial under partial clinical hold.
 
The study consists of 108 patients, and follows smaller studies that bore clean results.
 
CNBC writes that beloranib “is designed to make the body produce less fat and burn off the excess as fuel.” And it works by “blocking an enzyme called methionine aminopeptidase 2, which plays a key role in the production and use of fatty acids.”
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