Boehringer, Gubra strike backloaded €250M obesity deal

The Gubra deal adds to Boehringer's obesity R&D activities

Boehringer Ingelheim has committed up to €250 million ($300 million) to work with Gubra on obesity treatments. The deal gives Boehringer access to Gubra’s expertise in the design, synthesis and preclinical testing of therapeutic peptides.

Ingelheim, Germany-based Boehringer is paying an upfront fee of undisclosed size and committing to up to €250 million all told to access a potential source of peptides that regulate food intake. 

That focus continues Boehringer’s longstanding and active interest in developing drugs against obesity and related cardiometabolic diseases. Not all of these bets have paid off—Boehringer’s work with Vitae Pharmaceuticals ran aground—but through its own research and collaboration with Zealand Pharma it continues to build out its cardiometabolic disease pipeline.    

“We look forward to working with Gubra to bring breakthrough treatments for obesity,” Boehringer SVP Clive Wood, Ph.D. said in a statement. “It underscores our holistic, patient centric research strategy in metabolic diseases, which addresses not only obesity but also diabetes and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis as well as complications like diabetic nephropathy and diabetic retinopathy.”

Striking the deal with Boehringer burnishes Gubra’s reputation as a specialist in the discovery and development of peptide-based obesity drugs. Gubra took a big step toward earning the reputation in 2013 when it landed an alliance with Sanofi. That deal saw Sanofi enlist Gubra’s help with the identification of novel, peptide-druggable diabetes and obesity targets.

Gubra recently reached the third milestone in the Sanofi deal by identifying a novel peptide that could lead to the development of a new drug. The milestone and Boehringer deal form part of a busy 12-month period for the company, in which it has bolstered its ranks with leaders who cut their teeth at some of Denmark’s top drug development shops.

CSO Keld Fosgerau joined from Novo Nordisk in November. Prior to that brief stint at Novo, Fosgerau held senior research roles at Zealand Pharma.

Gubra then promoted Helle Kirstein Erichsen to COO in April. Erichsen started her career at NeuroSearch, before the company’s well-documented problems drove her to Saniona, which is itself now partnered with Boehringer.