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Boehringer Ingelheim acquires Funxional’s somatotaxin anti-inflammatory program

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INGELHEIM, Germany—Pharmaceutical leader Boehringer Ingelheimand Funxional Therapeutics, a privately held, clinical-stage company based inCambridge, United Kingdom, have announced an agreement by which BoehringerIngelheim will acquire the global rights to Funxional Therapeutics' FX125Lcompound and somatotaxin program. Boehringer Ingelheim will take fullresponsibility for all research, development and commercialization of thecompound moving forward. No financial details were disclosed.
Funxional Therapeutics' somatotaxins consist of a new classof anti-inflammatory small molecules that target a new pathway discovered bythe company. The pathway acts through the type-2 somatostatin receptor, whichis involved in dealing with inflammation and disrupted in chronic inflammatorydiseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) andrheumatoid arthritis. Funxional Therapeutics' program portfolio, based on thesesmall molecules, targets the pathway and offers anti-inflammatory compoundsoptimized for topical, parenteral and oral administration.
"Boehringer Ingelheim is delighted to add another promisingcompound to its development pipeline of drugs for the treatment of respiratorydisease, one of its most important therapeutic areas," Prof. Klaus Dugi,corporate senior vice president of medicine at Boehringer Ingelheim, said in apress release. "By acquiring the Funxional Therapeutics program, we are lookingforward to bringing a potential new therapy to patients, for instance thosesuffering from asthma and COPD."
FX125L is a small molecule intended for the treatment of avariety of inflammatory diseases, an oral, once-daily anti-inflammatorytherapy. The compound has a completed Phase I program, and preclinical andclinical results "suggest that FX125L is well positioned to achieve clinical andcommercial differentiation, with the potential to eventually become thefirst-line therapy against major inflammatory diseases," according to aFunxional Therapeutics press release. FX125L was recently studied in a Phase IIclinical trial as well. In terms of developing FX125L, Boehringer Ingelheimwill initially be focusing on the therapeutic areas of asthma and COPD.
"We are very pleased that the future development of FX125Land the somatotaxin program will be now driven forward by Boehringer Ingelheim.They are a very impressive organization and their people have the necessaryknowledge, skills and experience to successfully develop FX125L," DavidGrainger, founder and chief scientific officer of Funxional Therapeutics, saidin a statement.
Grainger founded the company in 2006, with Index Venturesand Novo A/S providing initial investment and Ventech leading the Series Bfinancing. Michelle Ollier, Index Ventures' partner and chairman of the board,called the acquisition of the somatotaxin program "further validation of Index'sbusiness model," adding that "we congratulate the team who have deliveredfirst-class science and developed a very exciting molecule. They have done anextraordinary job of building this company."
Boehringer Ingelheim declined to comment as to how long thecompany had been considering the program as an acquisition target, but acompany spokesman did note that "Funxional'sFXL-125 and the somatotaxin program has been viewed as a highly innovative andunique approach to asthma and COPD."
Boehringer Ingelheim's COPD portfolio contains a variety ofcompounds, including prescription products such as Spiriva for the maintenancetreatment of COPD patients; Atrovent, a bronchodilator for maintenancetreatment of bronchospasm associated with COPD, including chronic bronchitis,emphysema and asthma; Combivent for the management of bronchospams; andBerodual/Bronchodual/Duovent.
Funxional Therapeutics did not respond to a request foradditional comments.
As for Boehringer Ingelheim's plans for future expansion,the company notes that it "has complemented and will continue to complement itsinternally generated portfolio by gaining access to external innovation byvarious types of arrangements, not only acquisitions," making note of its recentbroad alliance with Eli Lilly & Co. to develop and commercialize fourdiabetic compounds, a technical collaboration with Forma Therapeutics toidentify new compounds in a range of therapeutic areas and the acquisition of aresearch program geared towards the central nervous system from German biotechBiocrea GmbH.

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