Transition, Lilly kill diabetes program after trial failure

Transition Therapeutics' diabetes drug, which is partnered with Eli Lilly, has run straight off the cliff. CEO Dr. Tony Cruz announced this morning that the drug--one of two clinical-stage therapies--failed a key clinical trial in combination with Lilly's GLP-1 analogue and will be dumped from the pipeline. The news took a 23 percent bite out of Transition's share price (TTHI).

"While TT-223 has shown efficacy through development, these results indicate that it does not have the product profile for a diabetes therapy. We wish to acknowledge, our development partner, Lilly, and the many clinicians that have shown a deep commitment in working together with us on the development of TT-223," says Cruz, an experienced investigator whose Toronto-based biotech specializes in targeting major markets with experimental therapies partnered with Big Pharma.

In TT-223's case, Lilly paid $7 million upfront and proffered $130 million in milestones back in 2008. They were working on the belief that gastrin analogues--either alone or in combination with existing therapies--could play a key role in sustained glucose control for Type 2 diabetes patients.

Lilly and Transition are still working together, however. Earlier this year, Transition picked up a package of preclinical compounds from Lilly for a mere $1 million down, giving the big pharma company an option to get the programs back at a later stage of development if they prove promising enough. Transition and Elan are also partnered on an Alzheimer's therapy that is poised to go into a late-stage program.

- here's the Transition release for more info