Biovitrum transferred two preclinical-stage type 2 diabetes and metabolic disease projects, GPR-119 and SCD-1 (stearoylcoenzyme-A-desaturase-1), to iNovacia, a drug discovery services company spun out of Biovitrum in 2006. iNovacia aims to continue development of both projects in collaboration with new commercial partners. The deal includes a 70:30 split of future revenues from the programs in favor of iNovacia, although Biovitrum will receive future sales royalties on top of its 30% revenues entitlement.
“We are pleased that our SCD-1 and GPR-119 projects have got a new home with iNovacia, a company we have worked with when developing the existing candidate drugs,” commented Peter Edman, Biovitrum CSO. “The transfer of these promising projects to iNovacia allows us to further focus on bringing specialist indication biopharmaceuticals to patients with significant unmet medical needs.”
Expressed in pancreatic beta-cells, the GPR-119 receptor is activated by incretins released in the gastric tract following food intake, to stimulate insulin production. Unlike the GLP-1 receptor, however, GPR 119 can also be activated by small molecule compounds, Biovitrum claims. Preclinical studies have already suggested potential use of the company’s GPR-119 compounds in restoring insulin production and release in type-2 diabetes patients.
SCD-1 converts saturated to monounsaturated fatty acids, and its activity correlates with plasma concentrations of fat and body mass index. Biovitrum maintains the patent-pending inhibitor acquired by iNovacia as part of the SCD-1 project lowers activity of the enzyme in animal models of obesity, reducing the formation of monounsaturated fatty acids, reducing weight gain, and lowering LDL-cholesterol and HbA1c levels. SCD-1 inhibitors in the Biovitrum portfolio have also shown beneficial effects on blood glucose levels in disease models of diabetes.
iNovacia is owned 10% by Biovitrum, 20% by Moscow-based Asinex, and 70% by its employees and founders.
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