Metabolex, Ortho to collaborate on metabolic disorders

Metabolex announced a strategic agreement with Ortho-McNeil to collaborate on the development and commercialization of compounds targeting metabolic disorders.

Randall C Willis
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.
 
"With this agreement, we now have access to capital to do what we need to do in the next few years and to become a public com­pany with multiple clinical-stage, highly-differentiated products focused in a lucrative market with major unmet needs partnered with a worldwide pharmaceutical company dedicated to the category," he adds.

Randall C Willis

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