Wyeth is acquiring the privately-held UK biotechnology company Thiakis in a deal that could be worth around $150 million.

Under the terms of the deal, Wyeth is initially paying $30 million and additional payments of up to $120 million would be payable upon the achievement of certain development milestones. The attraction of Thiakis lies in the potential of its lead product candidate, TKS1225, for the treatment of obesity.

TKS1225 is a novel, long-acting synthetic peptide analogue of oxyntomodulin, an appetite suppressant, which is in early clinical development. A Phase I study weas initiated in March.

Mikael Dolsten, president of Wyeth Research, said that the acquisition “is evidence of our commitment to develop and bring to market innovative, high-value medicines that have the potential to address significant unmet needs in critical therapeutic areas such as metabolic disorders”. He added that Thiakis’ R&D programme “fits well with our goal of addressing the medical burden of obesity in a targeted manner using biologic-based therapies”.

Thiakis was founded in 2004 and based on original research conducted by Steve Bloom and colleagues at Imperial College London. The firm’s chief executive, John Burt, said that with Wyeth, “we are certain we have chosen the right company to follow through on our vision and commitment to develop and commercialise important new therapies” that address obesity.