Johnson & Johnson unit Janssen Pharmaceuticals has licensed a portfolio of molecules and biologics designed to treat diabetes by triggering the regeneration of insulin-producing beta cells from Germany-based Evotec.

The potential treatments were identified by scientists at Harvard University, working in collaboration with scientists from Evotec as part of the CureBeta research and development programme.

Under the terms of the license and collaboration agreement, Janssen will receive exclusive access to a series of drug candidates in exchange for an upfront payment of $8m. Janssen will also make future milestone payments, totalling between $200m and $300m per product, upon the achievement of certain pre-clinical, clinical, regulatory and commercial goals.

Janssen will also be eligible to pay royalties on future sales of any medications that result from the collaboration, and any payments made will be shared between Evotec and Harvard according to pre-agreed terms.

The CureBeta programme was established by Harvard University, Evotec and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in 2011 in order to identify and develop disease-state modifying therapeutic targets, utilising assets and expertise from all three parties. Janssen Pharmaceuticals will now provide pharmaceutical development expertise and marketing capabilities.

"The CureBeta programme was established by Harvard University, Evotec and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in 2011."

Evotev chief scientific officer Cord Dohrmann spoke of the success of the programme, stating: "We have not only achieved our scientific goals of creating a superior beta cell drug discovery platform and generating a deep pipeline of novel and exciting targets, but we have also established a new model of collaboration between academia and industry that has proven highly efficient and effective in accelerating innovative scientific development."

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Harvard chief technology development officer Isaac T. Kohelberg echoed Dohrmann’s sentiments, adding, "This alliance with Janssen Pharmaceuticals represents an important step towards a real solution for the treatment of diabetes."