Inventing new medicines: The FGF21 story

Mol Metab. 2013 Dec 27;3(3):221-9. doi: 10.1016/j.molmet.2013.12.003. eCollection 2014 Jun.


Since the discovery of insulin in 1921, protein therapeutics have become vital tools in the treatment of diabetes mellitus. This heritage has been extended with the comparatively recent introduction of recombinant and re-engineered insulins, in addition to the advent of GLP1 agonists. FGF21 represents an example of a novel experimental protein therapy which is able to induce favorable metabolic effects in various species ranging from rodents to man. The aim of this review is to communicate the story of the FGF21 drug discovery path from identification in a functional in vitro screen, to the eventual evaluation of its utility in patients. Given that the development of FGF21 advanced hand-in-hand with rapidly evolving scientific research around this target, we have also attempted to describe our view of recent developments regarding the mechanistic understanding of FGF21 biology.

Keywords: Drug discovery; FGF21; LY2405319; Metabolism.

Publication types

  • Review