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Photo: Flemming Pedersen, CEO, NeuroSearch

OBESITY: The most common predisposing factor for type 2 diabetes. A Danish research company is testing a drug, which via the brain influences metabolism

NeuroSearch, a research based Danish biopharmaceutical company, is close to completing development of a drug for the treatment of obesity. The drug is aimed at preventing development of type 2 diabetes. The candidate drug –tesofensine – is a result of the company’s research in ion channels and cell membrane transporters, which are important to neurotransmission in the brain.

NeuroSearch originally developed tesofensine as a drug for the treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease. But during preclinical studies, it was noticed that tesofensine showed some remarkable side effects: the drug markedly improves glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity as well as lowering cholesterol and fat levels in the blood. Tesofensine also has a significant effect on weight and fat reduction.


“There are many different ways of tackling obesity,” says Flemming Pedersen, CEO, NeuroSearch. “Our route is via the brain, where tesofensine has an effect on neurotransmitter production which can in turn influence metabolism.” To Flemming Pedersen, obesity is a disease of pandemic proportions.

“When patients become obese, it is often very difficult to tackle it with conventional slimming aids. Patients may lose weight initially, but quickly put it on again.” The phase II clinical study was initiated in mid 2006 and completion is expected mid 2007. Tesofensine is planned to reach the market after 2010.


In 2000 NeuroSearch produced candidate drug NS2359 following research into neurotransmitters in the brain. In the long term it could be a significant advance in the treatment of depression.

Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmith-Kline believes so much in NS2359, that in 2003 it entered a strategic alliance with NeuroSearch with a view to completing its development.

“GlaxoSmithKline has acquired the rights to NS2359,” says Flemming Pedersen of NeuroSearch. “Since the agreement was entered, they have paid all development costs and have taken on all marketing activities, which will be quite sizeable. NeuroSearch will also receive significant milestone payments as well as attractive royalties on sales. To date, phase II clinical studies have been initiated, involving several hundred volunteers in many countries.”

NS2359 has a “triple mode of action”, which means that it affects three neuro-transmitters simultaneously. This mode of action is expected to produce an optimal reduction in disease symptoms and a much faster response time than that seen with the antidepressants already on the market. An earlier study has shown that NS2359 results in a considerable improvement in cognitive functions such as awareness, concentration and memory, which can be adversely affected by standard antidepressant treatments.

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