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Lilly to buy Alnara biotech

Eli Lilly has agreed to buy privately held biotech company Alnara which is focused on developing protein therapeutics for metabolic diseases

Eli Lilly and Company has signed a deal to buy the privately held biotech company Alnara, which is focused on developing protein therapeutics for metabolic diseases. The company also has one therapy already submitted for marketing approval with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The orally delivered product, called liprotamase, is a pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy under review for the treatment of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI), which can be caused by conditions such as cystic fibrosis, chronic pancreatitis and pancreatectomy. Patients with EPI can become malnourished due to an inability to properly digest and absorb fat, protein, and carbohydrates. About 90 per cent of cystic fibrosis patients receive pancreatic enzyme replacement, according to Lilly.

Liprotamase is designed to let patients take fewer pills than are needed with current therapies. It contains three active ingredients — lipase, protease, and amylase — that digest a broad spectrum of fats, proteins and carbohydrates, without the need for co-factors. The product is manufactured using a biotechnology source, unlike current porcine-based products, which involve harvesting pancreases from pigs.

Massachusetts-based Alnara licensed worldwide rights to liprotamase from Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Therapeutics, the non-profit affiliate of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, in early 2009. Liprotamase would be Lilly's first marketed product in the enzyme replacement therapy arena.

Alnara was launched in late 2008 and is headed up by Alexey Margolin, who is co-founder, president and CEO. Before founding Alnara, Margolin served as chief scientific officer and senior vice president of research and preclinical development at Altus Pharmaceuticals. Financial terms of the deal between Lilly and Alnara were not disclosed.

6th July 2010

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