Arena Pharmaceuticals has announced that their experimental obesity drug, lorcaserin, had been found safe and had not caused any heart valve problems previously linked to a similar obesity drug.

The second safety review is planned for the next year and the company is hoping that this review will help them attract a commercialization partner.
Lorcaserin, hits the receptor in the brain that causes the feeling of fullness after meals. The same receptor was targeted with the previous weight loss drug Fen-phen, which was popular in the 1990s, but was banned due to the negative effects it had on heart valves.

Due to the negative effects caused by the targeting the same receptor, The Echocardiographic Data Safety Monitoring Board decided to monitor 3,200 patients using the drug.

The board gave Arena good news after testing patients at six months and then at 12 months. The trials supported lorcaserin's cardiovascular safety profile. The researchers reported that a twelve month period would have been enough to observe a fenfluramine-like effect on heart valves if there were any.

Arena Pharmaceuticals will continue to collect heart safety data for the next18 months and 24 months in the two-year study known as the Bloom trial. They will focus on learning the number of patients with a 5 % or greater weight reduction from baseline at week 52 as compared to placebo. They want to establish a very broad safety data about the drug.

Patients in the second of three lorcaserin trials have already begun enrolling. The already mentioned Blossom trial will last for one year and include people previously diagnosed with valvulopathy, a heart valve disorder but the 3rd trial will include patients with type 2 diabetes.
Final results are expected in 2009.

A new drug application with the Food and Drug Administration should be filed before the end of 2009. If approved, lorcaserin would be Arena's first marketable product and has the potential to be a first in its class drug for the treatment of obesity.