HAYWARD, Calif.—With an eye to advancing its two clinical compounds, Metabolex announced it had entered into a comprehensive global strategic agreement with Ortho-McNeil—a Johnson & Johnson company—that will see the two companies collaborate on the development and commercialization of compounds targeting metabolic disorders such as diabetes and obesity. The agreement includes Metabolex's metaglidasen and MBX-2044, which are insulin sensitizers designed to target type 2 diabetes.
The transaction will see the transfer of $40 million in equity and convertible financing to Metabolex, with up to $508 million in follow-up payments upon reaching specified development and sales milestones. The two companies will also share responsibility for conducting the clinical trials of metaglidasen and MBX-2044.
Metabolex's goal, explains President and CEO Dr. Harold Van Wart, was to expand its pipeline and retain control of its major development programs while benefiting from a partner's expertise, global reach, disease-specific knowledge and commercialization experience.
"By joining with Johnson & Johnson, one of the world's largest and most successful pharmaceutical companies, we can ensure that metaglidasen and MBX-2044 will have the development and commercialization resources, support and backing needed to fully realize [their] value," he says. "Also, we can continue to focus on developing other promising, early-stage products for metabolic diseases."
Officials at Ortho were unable to comment on the deal as the transaction is subject to the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act, but in a prepared statement, Dr. Garry Neil, group president of Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research and Development, said: "Diabetes and obesity affect hundreds of millions of people worldwide and are growing in incidence...Metabolex's expertise and portfolio of potential high-value product candidates for metabolic diseases make it an ideal fit for our strategy of collaborating with best-in-class companies."
The current crop of thiazolidinedione family of insulin sensitizers can trigger weight gain and edema and carry a warning of increased risk of congestive heart failure, so the market is open, Van Wart says, to a safer compound with a different chemical structure and mode of action. This is where metaglidasen comes into the picture.