GlaxoSmithKline has once again hit the acquisition trail and snapped up Sirtris Pharmaceuticals of the USA for $720 million, or $22.50 per share, a cash deal that represents a massive 84% premium on the latter’s stock price last night.

Sirtris specialises in sirtuins, a recently discovered class of enzymes that control the aging process, and has been developing SIRT1 activitators for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Moncef Slaoui, chairman of GSK’s R&D efforts, said that "modulation of this family of enzymes is a potentially transformative science that could address diseases associated with metabolism and ageing such as diabetes, muscle wasting, and neurodegeneration”.

He claimed that the acquisition continues GSK’s strategy of “pursuing the best new science, externally or internally” to bring new medicines and value to the GSK pipeline. Dr Slaoui also stressed that the firm intends to retain all of Sirtris’ employees “and continue the entrepreneurial and innovative culture they created”.

The deal was announced just days after Sirtris announced positive top-line data from its twice-daily dosing study of SRT501, the company's proprietary formulation of resveratrol. The Phase Ib study found that patients receiving 2.5g twice a day of the compound had significantly lower blood glucose levels at the test's two-hour time point compared with the placebo group.

SRT501 is also currently being tested in a Phase IIa study in combination with metformin, and results are expected in the second half of this year.

Avodart/Flomax combo gets BPH approval
On a busy day for GSK, which will be announcing its first quarter financials later today, the firm said that it has received regulatory approval in Sweden for its 5-alpha reductase inhibitor Avodart (dutaseride) to be used in combination with Boehringer Ingleheim’s Flomax (tamsulosin), for the treatment of patients with moderate-to-severe benign prostatic hyperplasia symptoms.

Approval was granted through the European Mutual Recognition Variation Procedure, with Sweden acting as the reference member state. Further approvals are anticipated in the coming months across the rest of Europe.

The green light was based on positive two-year results from the ongoing CombAT study, which showed that combination therapy with dutasteride and tamsulosin provides significantly superior and sustained improvements over two years in symptoms, peak urinary flow and quality-of-life versus either monotherapy, in men with moderate-to-severe BPH symptoms.