Takeda Pharmaceutical Co says it has started a Phase III clinical study in Japan of cetilistat, a treatment for obesity and related diseases which is licensed from the UK’s Alizyme.

The compound, which Takeda calls ATL-962, inhibits pancreatic lipases and is expected to be used not just obesity but also related diabetes or dyslipidemia. In August 2003, Takeda started to evaluate the European Phase II data of ATL-962 and concluded an agreement with Alizyme in January 2004.

Masaomi Miyamoto, general manager of Takeda’s pharmaceutical development division, says that the need for treatment of obesity “has attracted considerable social attention” and “we will continue to speed the development of ATL-962 to provide it to patients with obesity as soon as possible”.

News of the trial starting has boosted Alizyme’s shares and chief executive Tim McCarthy said “we have an excellent working relationship with Takeda, developed over the past five years, and we look forward to continuing to work together as cetilistat is progressed through Phase III”. Alizyme could receive up to $32 million in development and sales milestones, plus double-digit royalties on sales.

Meantime, Takeda also announced that Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare has approved its blockbuster type 2 diabetes drug Actos (pioglitazone) in combination with biguanides, ie metformin and buformin.