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AstraZeneca and NGM form diabetes/ obesity partnership

Will use MedImmune arm to develop treatments that target gastrointestinal hormones

AstraZeneca (AZ) is to increase its efforts in tackling two of the world's biggest health problems by teaming up with NGM Biopharmaceuticals to develop new treatments for type 2 diabetes and obesity.

The deal will see AZ's biologics arm MedImmune work with NGM on the company's enteroendocrine cell (EEC) programme, which has been developed to research the EEC cells behind almost all of gastrointestinal hormones.

These gastrointestinal hormones include GLP-1 – a current target for diabetes treatments, such as Novo Nordisk's Victoza (liraglutide) and Bristol-Myers Squibb's Byetta (exenatide) – but other hormones created by EECs remain relatively unexplored targets for potential treatments.

San Francisco-based biotech NGM has managed to develop a platform capable of isolating and analysing these EECs in order to identify these hormones, however, and AZ will be looking to capitalise on their potential in people with diabetes and/ or obesity.

Full financial details of the agreement were undisclosed, although, MedImmune will provide an upfront fee and provide research funding as well as potential milestones.

Both companies will work on the early development of drug candidates, with MedImmune having the option to license any treatments that emerge from the collaboration.

NGM's work has also attracted the attention of other pharma companies working in diabetes, and the company has existing agreements with Janssen to develop drugs that mimic the glucoregulatory effects of bariatric surgery and with Daiichi-Sankyo to develop drugs that modulate beta-cell regeneration to improve the function of the pancreas in creating insulin.

According to Dr Cristina Rondinone, MedImmune's head of cardiovascular and metabolic disease, the deal is one that “complements AstraZeneca's existing small molecule and biologics portfolio in cardiovascular and metabolic disease”.

This includes its existing work in the area of gastrointestinal hormones through its partnership with BMS that includes an alliance to market both Byetta and its extended-release formulation Bydureon.

It is the latest in a series of major development deals made by AZ this year as it attempts to boost its flagging pipeline, which has been beset by trial failures.

These deals include the acquisition of Pearl Therapuetics, Omthera Pharmaceuticals and AlphaCore Pharma, as well as collaboration agreements with Moderna Therapuetics and Oxford Cancer Biomarkers.

17th June 2013

From: Research

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