Healthcare Industry News:  metabolic disease 

Biopharmaceuticals

 News Release - April 23, 2008

Metabasis Therapeutics Announces Extension of Its Collaboration with Merck & Co., Inc. to Develop AMPK Activators for Diabetes and Other Metabolic Diseases

SAN DIEGO--(HSMN NewsFeed)--Metabasis Therapeutics, Inc. (Nasdaq:MBRX ) today announced an extension to the sponsored research term under its collaboration with Merck & Co., Inc. for an additional year, through June 2009. The two companies will continue their joint efforts to identify novel small molecule therapeutics with the potential to treat several diseases, including type 2 diabetes and other metabolic diseases, by activation of an enzyme called AMP-activated Protein Kinase (AMPK). AMPK is thought to play an important role in regulating carbohydrate and fat metabolism and consequently in metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes.

Merck and Metabasis will continue to work collaboratively with the goal of producing a candidate molecule suitable for clinical development. Merck will continue to fund research efforts at Metabasis for this project and has primary responsibility, including financial responsibility, for clinical development of any resulting therapeutic candidates as well as the right to market any products derived from the collaboration worldwide. Metabasis is eligible to receive payments upon achievement of certain candidate development milestones. Should a product be commercialized, Metabasis will receive a royalty on net sales and have the option to co-promote the product in the United States. Metabasis will receive $1.5 million over the course of the one-year extension to support its research efforts.

"We have made excellent progress working with our colleagues at Merck on this project to discover a clinical candidate,” stated Dr. Ed Baracchini, senior vice president of business development. “Merck’s decision to extend this collaborative effort reflects this progress and also recognizes our contributions in identifying activators of AMPK. AMPK has received considerable attention over the past several years based on its potential as a drug target for metabolic diseases. Our interest in AMPK stems not only from its therapeutic potential but also from our experience on enzymes that, like AMPK, use nucleotide binding sites to regulate their activity. Historically it has been difficult to find molecules that bind to these sites with high affinity and specificity. We look forward to continuing our strong relationship with Merck and its talented team of scientists on this attractive drug target for metabolic diseases."

About Metabasis (www.mbasis.com):

Metabasis is a biopharmaceutical company using its proprietary technologies, scientific expertise and unique capabilities for targeting the liver and liver pathways. The Company has established a broad pipeline of product candidates and advanced research programs targeting large markets with significant unmet needs. Metabasis' core area of focus is on the discovery and development of drug candidates to treat metabolic diseases such as hyperlipidemia and diabetes, among others. Although not a core focus of the Company, Metabasis has also discovered and developed drug candidates indicated for the treatment of liver diseases such as hepatitis and primary liver cancer, which it now intends to license or partner. All product candidates were developed internally using proprietary technologies.

Forward-Looking Statements:

Statements in this press release that are not strictly historical in nature constitute "forward-looking statements." Such statements include, but are not limited to, the extension, progress and future results of the AMPK collaboration between Metabasis and Merck, as well as the potential benefits of AMPK activation for the treatment of metabolic diseases. Such forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause Metabasis' actual results to be materially different from historical results or from any results expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. These factors include, but are not limited to, risks and uncertainties related to the progress and timing of clinical trials for Metabasis' product candidates; the fact that positive results from preclinical studies and early clinical trials does not necessarily mean later clinical trials will succeed; difficulties or delays in development, testing, obtaining regulatory approval, producing and marketing Metabasis' product candidates; serious adverse side effects or inadequate efficacy of, or serious adverse events related to, Metabasis' product candidates or proprietary technologies; the risk that Metabasis will not be able to build more value or retain rights for direct commercialization of its product candidates; Metabasis' dependence on its licensees and collaborators for the clinical development and registration of, as well as information relating to, certain of its product candidates; potential conflicts with collaborators that could delay or prevent the development or commercialization of Metabasis' product candidates; the scope and validity of intellectual property protection for Metabasis' product candidates, proprietary technologies and their uses; competition from other pharmaceutical or biotechnology companies; Metabasis' ability to obtain additional financing to support its operations; and other factors discussed in the "Risk Factors" section of Metabasis' Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2007 and in Metabasis' other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. All forward-looking statements are qualified in their entirety by this cautionary statement. Metabasis is providing this information as of this date of this release and does not undertake any obligation to update any forward-looking statements contained in this release as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.



Source: Metabasis Therapeutics

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