COPENHAGEN, Denmark—Zealand Pharma AS, a Copenhagen-basedbiopharmaceutical company specializing in peptide research, and global pharmagiant Boehringer Ingelheim announced in mid-June an exclusive global licenseand collaboration agreement for dual-acting glucagon and GLP-1 receptoragonists that may hold promise for treatment of patients with type 2 diabetesand patients with serious body weight issues.
The biological rationale for developing the primary novelcompound, ZP2929, is based on the pharmacology of the gut peptide hormoneoxyntomodulin. Oxyntomodulin is released by the L-cells of the small intestineafter meals, and is believed to exert its biological effects by activating boththe glucagon receptor and the GLP-1 receptor. The compound has shown inpreclinical studies the ability to achieve glycemic control while causingsignificant and sustained weight loss in humans. ZP2929 would be delivered tothe patient by once-daily injection.
Some estimates are that more than half of the U.S.population is either overweight or obese, based on body mass indexmeasurements. Many chronic conditions are associated with being overweight orobese, including type 2 diabetes. Increasing numbers of children areoverweight, and type 2 diabetes is a growing concern.
In their research collaboration, Zealand Pharma andBoehringer Ingelheim will focus on the characterization, identification anddevelopment of additional glucagon/GLP-1 dual agonists for the exploration ofnew indications, formulations and delivery systems.
As part of the agreement, Boehringer Ingelheim obtainsglobal development and commercialization rights to ZP2929. Zealand Pharma willbe responsible for conducting the first Phase I study of the promising compoundand Boehringer Ingelheim will fund the research, development andcommercialization of products under the agreement.
Depending on the achievement of development, regulatory andcommercial milestones, Zealand Pharma is eligible to receive payments forZP2929 and may also receive additional milestone payments if other productscovered by the collaboration are advanced through development. The payment mayalso cover cost reimbursements and research funding.
Zealand Pharma is entitled to tiered royalties on global sales of productsunder the agreement. The company will, though, retain co-promotion rights inScandinavia.
Additional details were not disclosed, and company officialswere not available for comment.
David H. Solomon, president and CEO of Zealand Pharma, saidin a prepared statement that his company is pleased to partner with BoehringerIngelheim, especially since the company has redoubled its efforts in thediabetes space.
"Together with Boehringer Ingelheim, we look forward toadvancing the development of ZP2929 into Phase I as part of our joint effortsto bring novel and better treatments to the market to help improve the lives ofdiabetes patients," Solomon said.
"Our focus to develop innovative diabetes treatments isreinforced by the in-licensing of a very interesting compound from ZealandPharma which complements Boehringer Ingelheim's pipeline in diabetes andmetabolic diseases very well," offered Dr. Klaus Dugi, Boehringer Ingelheim'scorporate senior vice president of medicine, in a media release. "With ourfirst diabetes treatment linagliptin recently approved by the FDA, we have amanifest for Boehringer Ingelheim's own research strength and its capability tobring novel medication to the patients. We are therefore pleased to bundle ourR&D experience with Zealand Pharma for further projects in diabetes andobesity."
Boehringer Ingelheim reps say this project is not part ofits strategic diabetes alliance with Eli Lilly & Co.
Zealand Pharma is a public biopharmaceutical company basedin Copenhagen, with a mature and growing clinical pipeline of innovativepeptide based drugs. The company's lead product is lixisenatide, a once-dailyGLP-1 in late-stage Phase III development in collaboration with Sanofi for thetreatment of type 2 diabetes.
Zealand Pharma specializes in the discovery, optimizationand development of novel peptide drugs with favorable therapeutic attributes,and all drug candidates in its pipeline have been identified through thecompany's own drug discovery activities.
The Boehringer Ingelheim group is one of the world's 20leading pharmaceutical companies. Headquartered in Ingelheim, Germany, it operatesglobally with 145 affiliates and more than 42,000 employees. Founded in 1885,the family-owned company has been committed to researching, developing,manufacturing and marketing novel products for human and veterinary medicine.