Melior Pharmaceuticals inked a licensing agreement with South Korea-based Bukwang Pharmaceutical to develop, manufacture, and commercialize MLR-1023, an insulin sensitizer for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.

As part of the agreement, Bukwang will receive an exclusive license to MLR-1023 and related compounds for specified countries in the Asia-Pacific region excluding Japan and support preclinical and clinical studies to be conducted in the U.S. and South Korea aimed at bringing MLR-1023 through Phase IIb proof-of-concept trials. The company also acquires an option to access Melior technology related to the underlying mechanism of action of MLR-1023. Melior will receive an upfront cash payment as well as payments upon achievement of certain development and regulatory milestones.

According to Melior, MLR-1023 improves glycemic control by directly and selectively activating the Lyn tyrosine kinase enzyme, which has been shown to modulate insulin-signaling pathways independently of PPAR mechanisms. Preclinical studies show that MLR-1023 has the potential to lower blood glucose levels more effectively than existing therapies without the risk of hypoglycemia or weight gain, the company said.

MLR-1023, formerly known as tolimidone, was previously in clinical development by Pfizer for an anti-ulcer indication. It was discontinued after Phase II due to a lack of efficacy in the anti-ulcer indication.

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