Regeneron and AstraZeneca have announced a new collaboration focused on researching, developing and commercialising small molecule medicines targeting GPR75 for the treatment of obesity.

GPR75 has emerged as a potential target for the treatment of obesity and its related co-morbidities, following findings published by Regeneron a few weeks ago in Science.

The new target was identified by sequencing almost 650,000 people and identifying individuals with rare protective mutations.

According to the analysis,  individuals with at least one inactive copy of the GPR75 gene had lower body mass index (BMI) and tended to weigh about 12 pounds less and faced a 54% lower risk of obesity compared to those without the mutation, on average.

These individuals also had strong associations seen with improvements in diabetes parameters including glucose lowering.

“The next era of drug development is being fuelled by important genetic findings that direct drug developers on how to deploy our toolkit of biologics, small molecules and gene editing technologies,” said George D. Yancopoulos, president and chief scientific officer of Regeneron.

“As experts on genetics and human biology, Regeneron is excited to join forces with the chemistry and small molecule leaders at AstraZeneca, as we seek to develop new medicines tackling the harmful and costly obesity epidemic,” he added.