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GEN News Highlights : Dec 9, 2010

Zealand Pharma Gets €500K Milestone Fee from Helsinn Healthcare

Helsinn is developing Zealand’s peptide analogue for chemo-induced diarrhea.

Zealand Pharma received a €500,000 (about DKK 3.73 million) milestone payment as part of its license agreement with Helsinn Healthcare for ZP1846 in chemotherapy-induced diarrhea. The firm has received €10 million in milestones, including today’s fee, from Helsinn under its November 2008 agreement.

Helsinn Healthcare received a worldwide, exclusive license and assumed responsibility for all further development, regulatory approvals, manufacturing, marketing, and sales of ZP1846. Total development and sales-based milestone fees due to Zealand Pharma are €140 million. Zealand will also receive a royalty on sales and has an option to sales and marketing rights for the Nordic countries.

ZP1846 is a glucagon-like-peptide-2 (GLP-2) analog. GLP-2 is a naturally occurring peptide hormone produced primarily by the small intestine. It is secreted in response to food ingestion and acts by binding to the GLP-2 receptor, which is predominantly found in the gastrointestinal tract.

GLP-2 plays a key role in intestinal growth and formation by promoting regeneration of the epithelial surface that is damaged by chemotherapy, the underlying cause of chemotherapy-induced diarrhea, the firm explains. Helsinn Healthcare recently initiated a Phase Ib trial in five centers in Europe involving colorectal cancer patients following the completion of a Phase Ia clinical study of ZP1846 by Zealand Pharma in the U.S.

Zealand has another GLP-2 compound, ZP1848, in clinical development for the treatment of Crohn disease. A Phase Ia single-dose study in healthy volunteers and a Phase Ib multiple-dose study in patients in the U.S. were completed this year. The firm expects to initiate a Phase IIa trial by the first quarter of 2012.