PLoS One 2013 11;8(3):e58575. Epub 2013 Mar 11.
Lilly Research Laboratories, Lilly Corporate Center, Indianapolis, Indiana, United States of America.
Fibroblast growth factor 21 is a novel hormonal regulator with the potential to treat a broad variety of metabolic abnormalities, such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, hepatic steatosis, and cardiovascular disease. Human recombinant wild type FGF21 (FGF21) has been shown to ameliorate metabolic disorders in rodents and non-human primates. However, development of FGF21 as a drug is challenging and requires re-engineering of its amino acid sequence to improve protein expression and formulation stability. Here we report the design and characterization of a novel FGF21 variant, LY2405319. To enable the development of a potential drug product with a once-daily dosing profile, in a preserved, multi-use formulation, an additional disulfide bond was introduced in FGF21 through Leu118Cys and Ala134Cys mutations. FGF21 was further optimized by deleting the four N-terminal amino acids, His-Pro-Ile-Pro (HPIP), which was subject to proteolytic cleavage. In addition, to eliminate an O-linked glycosylation site in yeast a Ser167Ala mutation was introduced, thus allowing large-scale, homogenous protein production in Pichia pastoris. Altogether re-engineering of FGF21 led to significant improvements in its biopharmaceutical properties. The impact of these changes was assessed in a panel of in vitro and in vivo assays, which confirmed that biological properties of LY2405319 were essentially identical to FGF21. Specifically, subcutaneous administration of LY2405319 in ob/ob and diet-induced obese (DIO) mice over 7-14 days resulted in a 25-50% lowering of plasma glucose coupled with a 10-30% reduction in body weight. Thus, LY2405319 exhibited all the biopharmaceutical and biological properties required for initiation of a clinical program designed to test the hypothesis that administration of exogenous FGF21 would result in effects on disease-related metabolic parameters in humans.