Boehringer Ingelheim has bagged global rights to diabetes treatments being developed by Zealand Pharma in a deal that could be worth up to 376 million euros to the Danish drugmaker.

The agreement covers dual-acting glucagon and GLP-1 receptor agonists for type 2 diabetes and obesity, most notably ZP2929. Zealand will be responsible for conducting the first Phase I study on the compound and during the first two years of collaboration, it is eligible to receive payments of up to 41 million euros including cost reimbursements and research funding. Zealand is entitled to tiered royalties and retains co-promotion rights in Scandinavia.

Boehringer's head of medicine, Klaus Dugi, said this "very interesting compound" complements the company's pipeline in diabetes and metabolic diseases very well. Its first diabetes treatment, the oral DPP-4 inhibitor Tradjenta (linagliptin), has just been launched in the USA (co-marketed with Eli Lilly) and Dr Dugi added that Boehringer is "pleased to bundle our R&D experience with Zealand for further projects in diabetes and obesity.” The companies will explore new indications, formulations and delivery systems for additional glucagon/GLP-1 dual agonists.

Zealand's most advanced product is lixisenatide, a once-daily GLP-1 receptor agonist which is in Phase III and is being developed with Sanofi.