SmartCells Deal Dénouement: The Target’s Perspective — Via Xconomy


Boston-based Xconomy has a nice CEO interview up this morning, capturing the target’s perspective of Merck’s SmartCells take-out/purchase — announced last week:

. . . .The conservative fund-raising strategy appears to have benefited the angel backers [including Boston Harbor Angels, Angel Healthcare Investors, Beacon Street Angels, Cherrystone Angels, and members of Common Angels]. Start-ups typically need to be bought for a lot more than they have taken from investors so they can provide returns to shareholders. If SmartCells had raised lots more cash, Zion said, it would have been much harder to see a lucrative return.

SmartCells began pursuing business development opportunities in earnest about nine months ago, Zion said.

“We’re on the doorstep of running human clinical studies,” he said, “and at this point it really does make sense to transition [our technology] to a large pharmaceutical company that can provide the type of resources you need to get a potential blockbuster diabetes drug like this . . . onto the market.”

SmartCells’s SmartInsulin candidate is designed to work much differently than [Merck’s] Januvia, an oral pill from the class of medications known as DPP4 inhibitors. The SmartCells treatment uses a polymer designed to release insulin only in the presence of certain glucose levels in the blood. . . .

Clearly, Merck is going to need a successor to its Januvia®/Janumet® franchise — before the 2014-2015 timeframe — as the joint Bristol-Myers-Squibb – AstraZeneca diabetis drug Kombiglyze® (imaged, lower left) is storming out of the gates, even as I type this.

If the “SmartInsulin” project pans out, it will help Merck mightily, here — but that drug will likely come about three to five years later than would be optimal — more like 2017 or 2018.

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