Merck agrees to buy SmartCells
Merck & Co. Inc., a pharmaceutical company headquartered in New Jersey, said it has agreed to buy SmartCells Inc., a private company based in Beverly that develops a glucose responsive insulin formulation for the treatment of diabetes mellitus.
If milestone targets are met, the value of the transaction could exceed $500 million, the companies said.
"Under the terms of the agreement, Merck will acquire all outstanding stock of SmartCells Inc.," a press release from the companies said. "In return, SmartCells shareholders will receive an upfront cash payment and be eligible to receive clinical development and regulatory milestones for products resulting from the transaction for potential aggregate payments in excess of $500 million. Sales-based payments for products resulting from the transaction will also be payable."
SmartCells' core technology was developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology by Dr. Todd Zion, the company's president, co-founder, and chief executive.
The release included a statement from Nancy Thornberry, senior vice president and head of the diabetes and obesity franchise for Merck Research Laboratories.
"Maintaining control of blood glucose levels represents a daily challenge for people living with diabetes," Thornberry said. "Through the acquisition of SmartCells, we have obtained innovative technology that may enable us to develop glucose-responsive insulins. If this investigational technology is ultimately approved for use with patients, it could provide an important new therapy for the treatment of diabetes.
SmartCells' board of directors has unanimously approved the transaction, the release added.