SOURCE: Sapphire Therapeutics

October 30, 2007 07:07 ET

Sapphire Therapeutics Licenses Ghrelin Antagonist Program From Novo Nordisk for Development of Obesity Treatments

BRIDGEWATER, NJ--(Marketwire - October 30, 2007) - Sapphire Therapeutics, Inc., a private biopharmaceutical company that develops new medicines acting on the ghrelin receptor for metabolic and oncologic diseases, has licensed a discovery-stage ghrelin antagonist program from Novo Nordisk. Ghrelin receptor antagonists are a new therapeutic target for the continuing unmet need for improved obesity treatments.

These potent potential drug "hits" were identified using Novo's proprietary computer model of the ghrelin receptor and already have shown good in vivo proof-of-concept data. No financial terms of the licensing arrangement were disclosed.

"Obesity is a huge unmet medical need and target market; ghrelin, as the only known systemically acting appetite-stimulating hormone, offers a new and very specific target for antagonist drug intervention," said William J. Polvino, MD, Sapphire's President and CEO. "Licensing this promising discovery-stage ghrelin antagonist program from Novo Nordisk complements Sapphire's clinical-stage agonist program and increases the breadth of our ghrelin portfolio. We are pursuing several strategic options for the next stage of this program, namely identifying lead compounds for IND-enabling toxicology studies."

Ghrelin receptor antagonists represent a new therapeutic target against obesity, a disease which is rapidly increasing in prevalence world-wide. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001 to 2004, approximately 30% of adults in the United States are obese (defined as a Body Mass Index greater than 30). As the prevalence of obesity has increased in the United States, so have a number of co-morbid conditions such as diabetes, coronary heart disease, high blood cholesterol, stroke and hypertension as well as their associated health care costs.

About Sapphire Therapeutics

Sapphire is a private biopharmaceutical company that develops new medicines acting on the ghrelin receptor against metabolic and oncologic diseases for which existing therapies are limited or marginally effective. Sapphire's pipeline consists of first-in-class, composition-of-matter protected compounds acting within the ghrelin pathway. The furthest advanced is anamorelin, a small-molecule ghrelin agonist, currently in Phase II development (with FDA fast-track designation) in cancer patients with anorexia/cachexia syndrome (a common, life-threatening complication of malignant disease). Sapphire is developing a second clinical-stage ghrelin agonist, ipamorelin, and expects to initiate Phase II studies in post-operative ileus (the temporary post-surgical disruption of gastrointestinal motility) in 2008. The company has a third ghrelin mimetic in preclinical development.

For more information, please visit the Sapphire Therapeutics web site at

Contact Information

  • Contacts:
    William J. Polvino
    President & CEO
    Sapphire Therapeutics, Inc.
    (908) 231-1435

    Ellen M Martin
    Kureczka/Martin Associates
    (510) 697-0055
    Email Contact