Participants Taking Experimental Monoclonal Antibody Lost 21 Percent of Total Body Fat

People with Type 2 Diabetes and Obesity Dropped 16.5 Pounds of Fat on Average 


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Feb. 1, 2021

BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA – People with type 2 diabetes and obesity lost 21 percent of their body fat after taking an experimental monoclonal antibody called Bimagrumab for 48 weeks, while participants who took a placebo lost 0.5 percent of their body fat, a new study shows.

The results of the study were published today in JAMA Network Open. Bimagrumab blocks activin type II receptors, stimulating muscle growth while promoting the loss of excess fat and improving insulin resistance. 

“The participants who received Bimagrumab experienced a profound decrease in body fat, increased muscle, and improved their blood sugar control,” said Dr. Steven Heymsfield, Professor and Director, Body Composition Laboratory at Pennington Biomedical Research Center. “The findings suggest that drugs that block activin type II receptors may provide a much-needed treatment for obesity and related health issues.”




Fat Mass

Reduced by 16.5 pounds

Reduced by 0.4 pounds

Lean Mass

Increased 3.7 pounds

Lost 0.9 pounds

 Hemoglobin A1c

Reduced by 0.8 percentage points

Reduced by 0.04 percentage points

Waist Circumference

Reduced by 3.5 inches

Increased by 0.2 inches


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved four weight-loss medications for long-term use. Bimagrumab, made by Novartis Pharmaceuticals, is one of several new weight-loss drugs in development. But, it is the only medication that helps participants add muscle. 

Preventing the loss of muscle and its associated functions is an important goal of obesity treatments. In most cases, muscle accounts for about 25 percent of the weight a person loses, whether that weight loss results from medications or changes in diet and/or exercise. 

The clinical trial involved 75 participants divided into two groups. One group received the medication. One group received the placebo. Both groups received regular diet and exercise counseling from a registered dietitian throughout the 48-week study. Research study results addressing these objectives in depth can be found in JAMA Network Open.

This study was funded by Novartis Pharmaceuticals.


About LSU's Pennington Biomedical Research Center

LSU's Pennington Biomedical Research Center is at the forefront of medical discovery as it relates to understanding the triggers of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and dementia. The center conducts basic, clinical and population research, and is affiliated with Louisiana State University. The research enterprise at Pennington Biomedical includes over 450 employees within a network of 40 clinics and research laboratories, and 13 highly specialized core service facilities. Its scientists and physician/scientists are supported by research trainees, lab technicians, nurses, dietitians and other support personnel. Pennington Biomedical is located in state-of-the-art research facilities on a 222-acre campus in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.