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Ligand (LGND) Commences Phase II Type II Diabetes Study

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Ligand Pharmaceuticals Incorporated LGND announced that it has started a phase II study on its pipeline candidate, LGD-6972 (a glucagon receptor antagonist), for the treatment of patients with type II diabetes mellitus (T2DM).

The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study will evaluate the safety and efficacy of LGD-6972, as an adjunct to diet and exercise, in patients with T2DM, whose blood glucose levels are inadequately controlled with metformin. The study is expected to enroll 148 patients, who will be treated with one of three doses of LGD-6972 (5 mg, 10 mg or 15 mg) or placebo once daily for a period of 12 weeks. The primary endpoint of this study is the change from baseline in hemoglobin A1c.

Ligand expects the study to be complete in late 2017, with data anticipated next year itself. Positive data from the study would allow the company to explore partnership opportunities for LGD-6972.

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We are encouraged by Ligand’s progress with the candidate. Per the company’s press release, diabetes is a global epidemic which is on rise, affecting more than 415 million people across the world. Even though T2DM is more common in adults, incidence of childhood obesity is increasing. It is estimated that 90–95% of Americans who are diabetic suffer from T2DM.

Ligand also mentioned that the market for diabetes drugs is projected to nearly double to $68 billion by 2022 as treatment paradigms shift to combination therapies and novel non-insulin drugs.

Note that glucagon receptor antagonists are a leading non-insulin mechanism and the company believes that LGD-6972 could have best-in-class properties, considering its effectiveness in lowering plasma glucose in patients with T2DM and its preliminary safety profile. Approval of LGD-6972 will be a positive for the company.

We note that Ligand is developing several promising candidates under partnerships.

Ligand is a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) stock. Some equally ranked stocks in the health care sector are Anika Therapeutics Inc. ANIK, Geron Corporation (GERN - Free Report) and ANI Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ANIP. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

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