San Diego-based biopharmaceutical company Lithera Inc. is rolling out a 500-patient clinical trial to test its drug that aims to reduce body fat without surgery.

The drug, called Lipo-202, is injected under the skin and works to eliminate fat in the targeted areas. It’s already on the market as an asthma medication called Salmeterol, and has been long approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for that purpose.

The company, launched in 2007, recently completed a $20.6 million round of financing from San Diego-based life sciences venture firm Domain Associates LLC and Rusnano, a joint-stock company owned by the Russian government.

“Following our recent Series C financing, Lithera is focused on advancing Lipo-202 in the clinic as we see tremendous potential for the drug to address a significant opportunity in aesthetic medicine – the ability to offer a quick and minimally invasive ‘lunch time’ procedure with no patient down time that effectively reduces abdominal fat,” Lithera President and CEO George Mahaffey said in a statement.

The clinical trials will measure the efficacy of three dosage levels of Lipo-202 in healthy nonobese subjects.

— Meghana Keshavan