HAMBURG, Germany, April 26, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Evotec AG (Frankfurt:EVT) (TecDAX) (ISIN:DE0005664809) today announced an auspicious step in research from Harvard University. The findings are published in a scientific article by Prof. Doug Melton, University professor at Harvard University and Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigator and his post doc Peng Yi in the journal Cell. Doug Melton is the academic key collaborator of Cure Beta, a strategic alliance between Harvard University, Evotec and Janssen Pharmaceuticals in the field of beta cell regeneration.
In the article, available as of 25 April 2013 in the online edition of Cell , Doug Melton, who is also the co-director of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and his post doc Peng Yi release the discovery of the new hormone betatrophin that controls beta cell proliferation. All intellectual property associated with these findings have been licensed to Evotec in March 2011 and subsequently sublicensed to Janssen Pharmaceuticals within the Cure Beta collaboration announced in July 2012.
Dr Cord Dohrmann, Chief Scientific Officer of Evotec, commented: "Restoring beta cell mass and function is the most promising approach to slow down or reverse disease progression in diabetic patients. The laboratory of Doug Melton has made a series of important contributions to this beta field in particular demonstrating that beta cell proliferation is a key mechanism that controls beta cell mass. His latest publication describes a previously underappreciated capacity of beta cells to proliferate in response to a pharmacological trigger and the identification of a novel physiological mediator, betatrophin."ABOUT CURE BETA In the beginning of 2011, Evotec, Harvard and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) established the Cure Beta initiative. The initial goal of the collaboration was to pursue a comprehensive and systematic approach towards the identification and development of physiological mechanisms and targets that regulate beta cell replication. During the initial period of the collaboration, Evotec, HHMI and Harvard established new standards in beta cell regeneration in terms of assays and tools as well as novel high potential targets. In July 2012, Janssen Pharmaceuticals entered into this collaboration. Janssen received exclusive access to a series of candidates designed to trigger the regeneration of insulin-producing beta cells. The small molecules and biologics were identified by scientists in the Harvard University laboratory of Douglas Melton and further analysed in collaboration with scientists from Evotec, as part of the Cure Beta research and development programme. ABOUT DIABETES Diabetes Mellitus is a chronic incapacitating disease associated with severe life-long conditions such as cardiovascular diseases, kidney diseases, nerve damage and eye diseases, which require intensive monitoring and control. Diabetes is caused by relative or complete decrease in insulin production and secretion by pancreatic beta cells. Furthermore, diabetes can be caused by the reduced effectiveness of secreted insulin in consequence of the gradual loss of insulin sensitivity of target cells which is called insulin resistance. At present, there is no cure for diabetes and only symptomatic treatment options are available. The most common diabetes types are type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Currently, about 90-95% of diabetes patients worldwide have type 2 diabetes. According to the International Diabetes Foundation, there are 371 million people worldwide who are diagnosed with diabetes (2011: 366 million) and about 187 million who are at risk of costly and debilitating diabetes complications who have not yet been diagnosed. It is estimated that about 4.8 million people will have died from diabetes at the end of 2012 (2011: 4.0 million). Concerning the diabetes market volume, approx. $471 bn were spent on the treatment of diabetes in 2012 (2011: $465 bn).