San Diego’s Neurocrine Biosciences Scores Second Big Deal in Two Days

6/18/10

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forward on development of some internal drug candidates, such as a drug  designed to control the involuntary movements often caused by Parkinson’s disease medications.

Thursday’s deal only improves Neurocrine’s financial position. Under the terms announced yesterday, Neurocrine will receive a $10 million upfront payment, research funding to support diabetes drug discovery efforts, and up to $225 million in milestone payments from Boehringer, based in reaching development, regulatory, and commercial goals.

The companies will jointly identify diabetes drug candidates and advance them through pre-clinical development. Their research will focus on a class of drugs called GPR119 agonists. Neurocrine says GPR119 is a receptor found on cells in the digestive system and on pancreatic islet cells. When activated, the receptor enhances the secretion of insulin.

People with Type 2 diabetes have reduced ability to secrete and respond to insulin, which is needed to regulate the level of glucose in the blood. Nearly 25 million people in the US have the disease, which is associated with obesity.

What is next for Neurocrine? I put in a call to Jane Sorensen in investor relations but didn’t hear back from her by deadline. Maybe company honchos think they’ve made enough news for one week. We’ll certainly be watching to see what happens next.

Denise Gellene is a former Los Angeles Times science writer and regular contributor to Xconomy. You can reach her at dgellene@xconomy.com Follow @

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