AstraZeneca has linked up with the USA's NGM Biopharmaceuticals to find new drugs for type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Specifically, the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker's biologics arm, has entered into an exclusive agreement with privately-owned NGM to discover and develop the latter’s enteroendocrine cell programme for the treatment of type 2 diabetes and obesity. AstraZeneca notes that EECs represent less than 1% of all gastrointestinal (GI) cells, but produce virtually all of the known GI hormones, including GLP-1. 

It adds that EECs are "an underexplored source of novel hormones that could play a major role in the positive and negative regulation of metabolism and glucose homeostasis". The companies will jointly advance first-in-class peptide and antibody drug candidates based on the discovered EEC hormones.

The financial details have not been disclosed but MedImmune will make an upfront payment and provide NGM with research funding over the course of the collaboration. The deal also includes commercial milestones, plus royalties.

Cristina Rondinone, head of cardiovascular and metabolic disease at MedImmune, said "we believe that hormones found in the GI tract can play an important role in resolving diabetes after bariatric surgery". She went on to say that "through NGM’s innovative research in metabolic disease, we believe our collaboration could lead to potential innovative medicines for diabetes and obesity".