Daiichi will make use of NGM’s discovery technology and in vivo screening platform to identify drug targets that influence the growth and functionality of beta cells, which store and release insulin. NGM’s research platform aims to discover therapies that can cause these beta cells to regenerate.
Research will be funded by Daiichi, but scientists from both companies will work together to develop drug candidates. NGM will receive an undisclosed upfront payment as part of the deal, as well as milestone payments if certain development and commercial goals are reached and royalties on product sales if a product makes it to market. In return, Daiichi will receive an exclusive worldwide license to develop and commercialize any products developed as part of the collaboration.
“We are extremely confident that this collaboration will expand our research activities in the cardiovascular metabolic area, which is a high priority target area for our company,” said Dr Kazunori Hirokawa, global head of Daiichi Sankyo's R&D unit. “Furthermore, I expect this collaboration to result in an innovative pharmaceutical product that meets an unmet medical need in the cardiovascular metabolic area.”
Other pharma companies looking at ways to stimulate growth of beta cells include Roche, which is working with JDRF and has published research claiming to have found a protein that regulates beta cell growth and a compound that stimulates it. Eli Lilly is also working with the JDRF to investigate compounds that can regenerate beta cells and Boehringer Ingelheim recently partnered with a German university to research the causes of diabetes, including the genetic reasons behind the destruction of beta cells in people with type 1 diabetes.