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Second Participant in Zafgen’s Obesity Drug Trial Dies

Update Date: Dec 02, 2015 04:09 PM EST

Zafgen Inc.'s obesity drug trial is not looking too good after a second participant died.

"We are investigating the circumstances around this event,' Chief Executive Officer Thomas Hughes said in the release. He added that the Boston-based company will be working with the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA). "Our thoughts are with the patient and their family at this time. Patient safety remains our top priority, and we are investigating the circumstances around this event."

According to BloombergBusiness, shares plummeted 58 percent to a $6.69 at 9:30 a.m. ET.

Zafgen revealed that the participant, who was taking the experimental drug, beloranib, died due to blood blockages in the lungs (bilateral pulmonary emboli). It is unclear whether or not the blood clots were caused by the drug.

Beloranib was designed to treat an extremely rare eating disorder known as Prader-Willi syndrome. The condition causes people to have an almost uncontrollable appetite, which leads to overeating. During infancy, the condition can cause development issues, muscle weakness, and poor growth.

Beloranib is supposed to work by getting the body to metabolize fat. Zafgen is hoping the drug can also treat other causes of obesity.

The first death in the trial dated back to October. Zafgen did not uncover the cause of death. At the time, the FDA had placed a partial hold on the study. The trial enlisted 108 participants.

Zafgen has not stated whether or not they will continue the late-phase trial. The company will be expecting results for the first three months of the trial very soon.

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