Could an ‘extreme’ hibernating ground squirrel unlock new obesity treatments?

[Adobe Stock]

In late 2023, Eli Lilly, whose stock is now up close to 80% over the past year, inked a deal with the Emeryville, California–based Fauna Bio potentially worth $494 million that focuses on the discovery of novel drug targets for treating obesity. In 2020, Fauna entered into an obesity-focused collaboration with Novo Nordisk, Lilly’s primary rival in the obesity treatment market. Coincidentally, Novo Nordisk’s stock is up more than 50% over the past year, thanks in large part to strong sales of the GLP-1 drugs Ozempic and Wegovy.

In the hunt for the next obesity blockbuster, both Lilly and Novo Nordisk are turning to Fauna Bio’s expertise in extreme mammal genomics. Among Fauna Bio’s focus areas is the 13-lined ground squirrel, an example of the company’s emphasis on “extreme mammals.” The squirrels are known for their remarkable metabolic transformations during hibernation that make them…

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