Germany's Evotec and partner Harvard University have licensed a portfolio of small molecules and biologics to Johnson & Johnson "designed to trigger the regeneration of insulin-producing beta cells".
The drugs were identified by scientists in the Harvard University laboratory of Douglas Melton, and further analysed in collaboration with scientists from Evotec, as part of the CureBeta initiative. The latter was established in 2011 by Evotec, Harvard and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute "to leverage the assets and expertise in industry and academia to identify and develop disease-state modifying therapeutic targets".
J&J's Janssen Pharmaceuticals unit is paying an $8 million upfront fee and between $200 million to $300 million per product that comes out of the collaboration, plus royalties. The upfront, milestone and royalty payments will be shared by Evotec and Harvard, while the former will receive additional research support for discovery and early development work.
Cord Dohrmann, Evotec's chief scientific officer, said "our collaboration with Doug Melton's laboratory has been extremely successful on multiple levels". He added that "we have not only achieved our scientific goals of creating a superior beta cell drug discovery platform and generating a deep pipeline of novel and exciting targets, but we have also established a new model of collaboration between academia and industry that has proven highly efficient and effective".
Isaac Kohlberg, Harvard's chief technology development officer, said that "as the funding and licensing landscape has evolved in the pharmaceutical industry, we have evolved to identify new development strategies for our research assets". He added that this alliance with Janssen "represents an important step towards a real solution for the treatment of diabetes".