Human drug implant shows positive outcomes for feline obesity and diabetes management


A new peer-reviewed paper published in BMC Veterinary Research shows the potential veterinary use of weight loss drug implant

OlegDoroshin /

OlegDoroshin /

A long-term drug delivery system (OKV-119; Vivani Medical) is typically used for chronic weight management in obese or overweight human patients with one or more risk factors.1 However, the drug was recently tested for use in cats, specifically to support in feline obesity and diabetes management. The peer-reviewed paper was published in BMC Veterinary Research2 and examined the effects of this miniature, subdermal, exenatide drug implant after it was administered to cats.

“The data published in BMC Veterinary Research is further evidence that our proprietary NanoPortal implant technology holds promise in reducing obesity in cats,” said Adam Mendelsohn, PhD, Vivani president and CEO, in a company release.1 “Felines share many pathophysiologic obesity phenotypes with humans, and our [data] supports the efforts to clinically evaluate our miniature, subdermal GLP-1 implants for the treatment of chronic weight management in obese or overweight human patients and type 2 diabetes, respectively. Vivani is dedicated to rapidly developing our portfolio of weight loss focused implants as they collectively have the potential to improve medication adherence, tolerability and real-world patient results.”

Glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1RA) are known to help obese people lose weight and improve heart health2 and the OKV-119 drug was being tested to give the GLP-1RA drug exenatide to cats over a long period. For the study, 5 purpose-bred neutered male cats were implanted with OKV-119 protypes and observed for a 112-day period. At the time of enrollment, cats were 28 months old and weighed a median of 5.61 kg (a range of 5.14 –7.38 kg).2 Throughout the study period, researchers measured the cats' food intake, weekly exenatide levels in their blood, and body weight.

The cats were given a standardized pelleted feline diet (Purina Cat Indoor formula), with 90 g of fresh food provided once daily in the morning. If their caloric intake was too low, they were offered canned wet food (Friskies Meaty Bits) to encourage eating. After Day 28, the cats were taken out of their individual pens and collectively given 450 g of the dry pelleted food for the rest of the study period.2

Results showed that exenatide levels in the cats' blood were detectable from day 7 and stayed above baseline for over 84 days. Four out of 5 cats ate less and lost weight in the first 28 days. These cats kept off at least 5% of their body weight for the entire 112 days. The study indicates a positive potential use of the OKV-119 implant to release exenatide for several months. Researchers determined that blood levels of exenatide between 1.5 ng/ml and 4 ng/ml are enough to cause weight loss in cats.2

The researchers in this study determined a need for more feline weight management options and cited Banfield Pet Hospital data to express the rise in cat obesity levels in the United States.1 Banfield has seen a 114% increase in cats diagnosed with obesity, from 18% of cats in 2011 to 38% in 2020.3

Vivani has also separately demonstrated the delivery of exenatide over a 6-month duration both in vitro and in vivo with rats and anticipates extending the duration of OKV-119 to 6 months for future studies.1


  1. Vivani Medical announces publication of positive weight loss data supporting potential veterinary use of OKV-119 miniature, long-term GLP-1 implant. News release. Vivani Medical Inc. May 28, 2024. Accessed May 29, 2024.
  2. Klotsman M, Anderson WH, Gilor C. Drug release profile of a novel exenatide long-term drug delivery system (OKV-119) administered to cats. BMC Vet Res. 2024; 20 (211).
  3. New data shows pet obesity epidemic existed before the "Covid 15". Banfield Pet Hospital. June 21, 2021. Accessed May 29, 2024.
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