SOURCE: Viking Therapeutics

February 02, 2015 08:00 ET

Viking Therapeutics Announces Research Collaboration for Novel Thyroid Beta Agonists as Potential Treatment for X-Linked Adrenoleukodystrophy

SAN DIEGO, CA--(Marketwired - Feb 2, 2015) - Viking Therapeutics, Inc., a clinical-stage company focused on developing novel, first-in-class or best-in-class therapies for metabolic and endocrine disorders, today announced that it has entered into a research collaboration agreement with the Academic Medical Center (AMC) of the University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands. The collaboration will focus on the development of Viking's proprietary selective thyroid beta agonists as potential treatments for X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy (X-ALD) and related diseases. 

"This agreement allows us to rapidly explore the potential benefit of our selective thyroid receptor agonists in this important area of unmet medical need," said Brian Lian, Ph.D., president and chief executive officer of Viking Therapeutics. "Our novel small molecules may represent an attractive approach to addressing the underlying pathology of X-ALD. In collaboration with AMC, we are committed to pursuing the therapeutic potential of our program in this devastating disease."

X-ALD is a rare and often fatal metabolic disorder characterized by a breakdown in the protective barriers surrounding brain and nerve cells; a process known as demyelination. The disease, for which there is no approved treatment, is caused by mutations in a peroxisomal transporter of very long chain fatty acids (VLCFA), known as ABCD1. As a result, transporter function is impaired and patients are unable to efficiently metabolize VLCFA. The resulting accumulation can trigger a rapid, inflammatory demyelination, which leads to cognitive impairment, motor skill deterioration, and even death. X-ALD is estimated to occur in approximately 1 in 17,000 births.

The thyroid beta receptor is known to regulate expression of an alternative VLCFA transporter, known as ABCD2. Various preclinical models have demonstrated that increased expression of ABCD2 can lead to normalization of VLCFA metabolism.

"Ever since our initial demonstration that pharmacological induction of the ABCD2 protein can compensate for the ABCD1 deficiency in X-ALD, we and others have been searching for safe and selective compounds with therapeutic potential. I am very excited to explore the biochemical and molecular effect of Viking's small molecules in our model systems," said Stephan Kemp, Ph.D, Assistant Professor and Principal Investigator at the Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam. Dr. Kemp, a renowned expert in X-ALD, will oversee the research.

Under terms of the agreement, Viking will provide financial support and access to its proprietary library of thyroid beta agonists for scientists at AMC to evaluate in preclinical models of the disease. Viking will own exclusive rights to all research and associated intellectual property resulting from the collaboration, while AMC will have the ability to publish results, subject to Viking's consent.

About Viking Therapeutics, Inc.
Viking Therapeutics is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of novel, first-in-class or best-in-class therapies for metabolic and endocrine disorders. Viking's research and development activities leverage its expertise in metabolism to develop innovative therapeutics designed to improve patients' lives. Viking has exclusive worldwide rights to a portfolio of five therapeutic programs in clinical trials or preclinical studies, which are based on small molecules licensed from Ligand Pharmaceuticals Incorporated. Viking's clinical programs include VK5211, an orally available, non-steroidal selective androgen receptor modulator, or SARM, entering Phase 2 development for the treatment and prevention of lean body mass loss in patients who have undergone hip fracture surgery and VK0612, a first-in-class, orally available drug candidate in Phase 2 development for type 2 diabetes. Viking is also developing novel and selective agonists of the thyroid beta receptor for adrenoleukodystrophy and lipid disorders, as well as two earlier-stage programs targeting metabolic diseases and anemia. For additional information about Viking and its programs, please visit www.vikingtherapeutics.com.

About the Academic Medical Center at the University of Amsterdam
The Academic Medical Center (AMC) is one of the foremost research institutions in the Netherlands, as well as one of its largest hospitals. AMC has 45 clinical and research departments. The hospital houses all medical specializations. Over 8500 people work here to provide integrated patient care, fundamental and clinical scientific research, and teaching. The AMC complex houses the university hospital and the faculty of medicine of University of Amsterdam as well as the Emma Children's Hospital, the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience, the medical department of the Royal Tropical Institute and the Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development. During the next few years, the Spinoza Centre for Neuroimaging building will arise next to AMC. About 30,000 patients are admitted to AMC wards each year, whilst the outpatient clinics see around 380,000 people annually. Day care -- an intermediate form of care -- is becoming increasingly popular: about 30,000 patients a year receive such care. AMC is one of the Netherlands' trauma centers. This concentration of expertise provides a breeding ground for fruitful scientific collaboration. For more information please visit https://www.amc.nl/web/Research.htm.

Forward Looking Statements
This press release contains forward-looking statements regarding Viking Therapeutics, including statements about Viking's expectations regarding its agreement and relationship with AMC and Viking's development activities. Forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially and reported results should not be considered as an indication of future performance. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to: risks associated with AMC's use of Viking's proprietary library of thyroid beta agonists for evaluation in preclinical models of X-ALD and related diseases; the success, cost and timing of Viking's product development activities and clinical trials; and risks regarding regulatory requirements, among others. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date hereof. Viking disclaims any obligation to update these forward-looking statements.

Contact Information

  • Contacts:

    Viking Therapeutics, Inc.
    Brian Lian
    President and CEO
    Email Contact
    (858) 550-7810

    Vida Strategic Partners
    Stephanie Diaz (investors)
    Email Contact
    (415) 675-7401

    Tim Brons (media)
    Email Contact
    (646) 319-8981