Amylin Corp. of San Diego is pegged by founder Ted Greene asa company that's "going to make history."
Greene, who started Hybritech Inc. in the early 1980s, riding awave of product development in monoclonal antibodies, said heexpects to find similar success with Amylin and its namesake,amylin, a protein. His new company is developing its amylinand amylin antagonists to treat diabetes and other glucosedisorders.
Hybritech was sold to Eli Lilly & Co. for $480 million in one ofthe first big-money biotech buy-outs. Greene put the proceedsto work in Biovest Partners, which led investment in Amylinthat now totals $27 million.
While Greene, company chairman and chief executive officer,laid Amylin's financial foundation, the scientific expertise wasbuilt on the 1987 discovery of amylin by Dr. Garth Cooper atBritain's Oxford University. Now Amylin's chief scientist, Cooperfound that the pancreas makes insulin and amylin, whichappears to modulate insulin's hypoglycemic (glucose-lowering)effects. Insulin-dependent Type 1 diabetics apparently makeneither insulin nor amylin. Amylin aims to formulate an insulinthat contains amylin.
Patients with the more common Type 2, or late-onset, diabetesproduce excess amylin. The company is studying whetheramylin causes the disease, with an eye toward developingamylin antagonists.
Greene said that company scientists recently found an amylinreceptor, but declined to reveal details.
Dr. Ken Feingold, a diabetes expert at the VeteransAdministration Hospital in San Francisco, said that it is tooearly to tell whether amylin is a key regulator of glucosemetabolism or a coincident result. "Within two years, scientistswill have an idea if this was a good avenue to follow or anotherdead-end street," he predicted.
If amylin works, Amylin stands to turn it into a toll roadbecause of what Greene views as a dominant patent position.Amylin has applied for a patent, but none has yet issued. Alsostudying amylin's effects are Sandoz, Lilly and Pfizer.
-- Carol Talkington Verser, Ph.D. Special to BioWorld
(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.