Merck gains novel insulin technology with acquisition of SmartCells
10 Dec 2010
Merck & Co., Inc., (NYSE:MRK) and SmartCells, Inc., have
entered into a definitive agreement under which Merck will acquire
SmartCells, a private company developing a glucose responsive insulin
formulation for the treatment of diabetes mellitus. The deal values
SmartCells at over US$500m.
"Maintaining control of blood glucose levels represents a daily
challenge for people living with diabetes," said Nancy Thornberry,
senior vice president and head, diabetes and obesity franchise,
Merck Research Laboratories.
"Through the acquisition of SmartCells we have obtained
innovative technology that may enable us to develop
glucose-responsive insulins. If this investigational technology is
ultimately approved for use with patients, it could provide an
important new therapy for the treatment of diabetes. This holds the
potential to significantly impact the treatment of this disease."
Under the terms of the agreement, Merck will acquire all
outstanding stock of SmartCells, Inc. In return SmartCells
shareholders will receive an upfront cash payment and be eligible to
receive clinical development and regulatory milestones for products
resulting from the transaction for potential aggregate payments in
excess of $500 million. Sales-based payments for products resulting
from the transaction will also be payable. SmartCells' board of
directors has unanimously approved the transaction.
"At SmartCells, we have made important progress in rapidly
advancing from early concept towards clinical development," said
Todd C. Zion, Ph.D., president, co-founder and chief
executive officer. "This acquisition positions our novel technology
for success in the hands of a leading pharmaceutical company with
proven expertise and exceptional resources to deliver breakthrough
diabetes products to patients."
SmartCells has developed a technology platform that makes it
possible to auto-regulate the release of a therapeutic based on the
plasma concentration of a designated molecular indicator. In the
case of insulin, the technology employs an approach whereby an
insulin therapeutic is available only in the presence of a specific
glucose concentration range. If this approach is successful in the
clinic, it has the potential to produce insulin analogs that may
result in a lower risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) compared
with standard insulin analogs and improve control over both fasting
and post meal glucose levels.