Sanofi-Aventis has entered into yet another alliance, this time signing a deal with the USA’s Metabolex for a new oral type II diabetes.

The French drugmaker will get an exclusive worldwide license to develop, manufacture and commercialise MBX-2982, a G-protein coupled receptor 119 agonist which is currently in Phase IIa trials. The agreement also covers related compounds.

Cashwise, Metabolex will receive an undisclosed upfront fee and be eligible to receive development, regulatory, and specified commercial milestone payments. The total value of the pact could reach $375 million, plus royalties and the firms noted that the deal is subject to antitrust clearance in the USA.

Sanofi said that GPR119 receptor agonists are found to exert the effects on glucose metabolism by a dual mode of action affecting both insulin and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) release. The Paris-headquartered group added that “this innovative mechanism could offer improved glucose control over the existing oral diabetes therapies, with an additional potentially beneficial effect on weight”.

Pierre Chancel, head of diabetes at Sanofi said “the new mechanism of action of MBX-2982 is very promising”, noting that with the growing epidemic of type II diabetes, “more effective and well-tolerated oral treatment options continue to be a cornerstone of innovative treatment schemes”.

Sanofi, which earlier this week signed a microRNA deal with Regulus Therapeutics that could be worth some $750 million, established a specific global diabetes division in February to help the firm achieve its aim of becoming the number one firm in the disease, taking over from Novo Nordisk. Its best-selling treatment is Lantus (insulin glargine) and in the last few months, the company has signed a deal with CureDM to get access to a novel human peptide, Pancreate, which could restore a patients’ ability to produce insulin and linked up with privately-held US group AgaMatrix, to develop and sell devices for diabetes.

It has also been a good week for Metabolex seeing as how it has also signed a diabetes deal with another drugs giant, Johnson & Johnson. The deal with J&J’s Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals unit involves several compounds that are currently at the preclinical stage and the pact could be worth up to $330 million to Metabolex, plus royalties.