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Transition takes on Lilly muscle-boosting drug

Lilly to receive just $1m upfront but could get up to $100m in milestones

transition therapeutics logoEli Lilly has licensed rights to an experimental drug that builds muscle to Canada's Transition Therapeutics.

The big pharma company pockets just $1m upfront from the deal, although Transition could pay up to $100m in milestones if the small-molecule drug - called TT701 - eventually reaches the market.

TT701 is a selective androgen receptor modulator (SARM) that has been shown to increase lean body mass and muscle strength in male subjects, whilst also reducing fat levels in the body. 

Despite its effect on testosterone levels there was no accompanying increase in prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels. PSA levels are known to rise with testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) and there have been concerns TRT could activate or exacerbate prostate hyperplasia or prostate cancer.

It is not clear immediately what indications Transition will pursue for TT701. In the past, Lilly has tested SARMs in tandem with its Cialis (tadalafil) drug for erectile dysfunction (ED), while in recent years there has been growing interest in TRT to help men avoid age-related consequences of declining testosterone levels.

In a statement, Transition limited itself to saying that the profile of the drug "creates a number of development opportunities."

This is the second product candidate on which the two companies have partnered, after Transition licensed rights to its type 2 diabetes and obesity therapy TT401, which is in phase II trials, in 2013. 

TT401 is a GLP-1 dual agonist that Transition believes will show superior glucose control compared to current GLP-1 drugs such as Novo Nordisk's Victoza (liraglutide), and is the fruit of a collaboration with Lilly that dates back several years. 

The two companies are also working together on the discovery and development of osteoarthritis treatments and have also collaborated in the past on Alzheimer's research.

Meanwhile, the Canadian company also has an in-house candidate - ELND005 - for the treatment of agitation and aggression in Alzheimer's disease as well as neuropsychiatric symptoms in Down's syndrome patients. 

The drug, which works by reducing levels of myo-inositol, a molecule whose concentration is elevated in many brain disorders, as well as targeting beta amyloid. It was previously licensed to Elan but was handed back after Elan was taken over by Perrigo.

Article by
Phil Taylor

11th May 2015

From: Research



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