Research focuses on therapies that can cause regeneration of beta cells
Daiichi Sankyo has formed a partnership with US-based NGM Biopharmaceuticals to research and develop new treatments for diabetes .
Japan-based Daiichi can make use of NGM's discovery technology and in vivo screening platform to identify drug targets that influence the growth of beta cells, as well as their functionality.
Beta cells both store and release insulin, and if there is a lack of the cells, or they do not function correctly, it can lead to diabetes. NGM's research platform aims to discover therapies that can cause these beta cells to regenerate.
Research will be funded by Daiichi, but scientists from both companies will work together to develop drug candidates.
US-based NGM will receive an undisclosed upfront payment as part of the deal, as well as milestone payments if certain development and commercial goals are reached and royalties on product sales if a product makes it to market.
In return Daiichi will receive an exclusive worldwide licence to develop and commercialise any products developed as part of the collaboration.
“We are extremely confident that this collaboration will expand our research activities in the cardiovascular metabolic area, which is a high priority target area for our company,” said Dr Kazunori Hirokawa, global head of Daiichi Sankyo's R&D unit.
“Furthermore, I expect this collaboration to result in an innovative pharmaceutical product that meets an unmet medical need in the cardiovascular metabolic area.”
Other pharma companies currently looking at ways to stimulate growth of beta cells include Roche.
The Switzerland-based firm is working with the patient group JDRF and published research in the journal Cell Metabolism claiming to not only have found a protein that regulates beta cell growth, but also a compound that stimulates it.
Eli Lilly & Company is also working with the JDRF to investigate compounds that can regenerate beta cells and Boehringer Ingelheim recently partnered with a German university to research the causes of diabetes, including the genetic reasons behind the destruction of beta cells in people with type 1 diabetes.