Focus is on regeneration of insulin producing beta cells.
Janssen Pharmaceuticals entered into an exclusive licensing agreement with Evotec and Harvard University that gives the company access to a portfolio of small molecule and biologic research programs focused on the regeneration of insulin-producing beta cells in people with diabetes. The agreement, which calls for an upfront payment of $8 million, could be worth $200 million to $300 million in milestones to Evotec and Harvard per product.
Beta cells synthesize, store, and secrete insulin. Their failure and loss leads to diabetes, which makes the beta cell an important target for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes research.
The agreement follows the 2011 CureBeta initiative established in 2011 between Evotec, Harvard, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The collaboration has focused on analyzing and characterizing drug candidates and targets identified by scientists at the Harvard University laboratory of Douglas Melton. During the initial period of the collaboration, Evotec said the initiative established new standards in beta cell regeneration in terms of assays and tools as well as novel high potential targets.
“This collaboration strengthens our long term diabetes development pipeline and directly reflects our commitment to making a difference for the millions of people worldwide living with this disease,” says Peter DiBattiste, Global Therapeutic Head, Cardiovascular and Metabolism in Janssen’s research and development division.
In addition to the upfront and milestone payments, Janssen will pay royalties on future sales of any products that result from the collaboration. The upfront, milestone and royalty payments will be shared by Evotec and Harvard according to pre-agreed terms. Though the terms were not disclosed, during a call with analysts, Evotec CEO Werner Lanthaler indicated it was close to a 50-50 split.
Evotec also said it will receive additional research support for discovery and early development work that will be conducted in collaboration with Janssen.
During the analyst call, Lanthaler said the deal provides Janssen access to an exclusive portfolio of small molecule and biologics, while expanding Evotec’s leadership in beta cell regeneration and accelerating the development of innovative science at Harvard. “This is a great starting point for innovation and something with think the innovation needs more of in the future,” Lanthaler says.
By DANIEL S. LEVINE