SEOUL -- Rhythm Pharmaceuticals, a Boston-based biopharmaceutical company, has agreed to acquire technology for LB54640, an anti-obesity drug candidate developed by South Korea's major chemical company LG Chem. A second-stage clinical study is under way in the United States.
Rare obesity mainly occurs due to an abnormal function of the melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R), a gene that sends a satiety signal. The disease typically manifests in childhood, and patients with the condition cannot control their appetite. LB54640 is the world's first oral agonist for MC4R. According to LG Chem, weight loss efficacy and safety were confirmed through the phase 1 clinical trials in the U.S.
LG Chem said that global development and sales rights will be transferred to Rhythm Pharmaceuticals. The US pharmaceutical firm will recruit participants for the second-stage clinical study for LB54640's commercialization. After receiving an initial payment of $100 million from Rhythm Pharmaceuticals, the South Korean company can obtain up to $205 million based on milestones achieved during the development and commercialization.
"We believe Rhythm is the ideal partner because of its extensive genetic obesity database, global network of clinical trial sites and investigators, a track record of regulatory successes and - most importantly - because Rhythm values patients and addresses their urgent needs for care," LG Chem Life Sciences head Son Jee-woong said in a statement on January 5.
"The development of an effective oral therapy for treating MC4R pathway diseases has been a major goal for the industry and the early data from LG Chem suggest they have identified a specific therapy for the MC4R without hyperpigmentation or cardiovascular side effects," said Rhythm Pharmaceuticals CEO David Meeker.
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