GlaxoSmithKline Scoops Up Sirtris

Zhoop! It’s the sound of another prominent local biotech company being acquired by a far-away pharmaceutical giant.

Last week it was Millennium, which was snapped up by Japan’s Takeda Pharmaceuticals for $8.8 billion. This time it’s Cambridge, MA-based Sirtris Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:SIRT), a company we’ve covered regularly, which is about to become part of London and Philadelphia-based GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK).

After the markets closed today, GSK announced a $720 million cash tender offer for Sirtris, or $22.50 per share, representing an 84 percent premium over Sirtris’s closing price today of $12.23.

Sirtris focuses on developing drugs that treat diseases related to metabolism and aging, such as Type 2 diabetes, by activating a class of enzymes called sirtuins. It has a single drug candidate, SRT501, in early safety-and-dosing trials as a potential diabetes treatment.

SRT501 is a proprietary formulation of resveratrol, a chemical found in red wine that has been shown by Sirtris founder David Sinclair to activate sirtuins in lab animals, mimicking the age-retarding effects of calorie restriction. The company is developing other chemicals unrelated to resveratrol that are more powerful activators of the sirtuins, but none have yet reached clinical trials in humans.

According to a press release, Sirtris will become part of GSK’s Drug Discovery operation and will operate as an autonomous unit, based in Cambridge, under the leadership of current CEO Christoph Westphal.

We expect this transaction will accelerate our vision to target sirtuins to treat diseases of metabolism and ageing and deliver tremendous value to patients, our shareholders and our employees,” Westphal said in the press release. “We look forward to working with GlaxoSmithKline and their world-class research, development and commercialization organization.”

Update 6:40 p.m. April 22, 2008: We just reached Michelle Dipp, Sirtris’s director of corporate development, by telephone and have published a brief Q&A about the acquisition.

Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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17 responses to “GlaxoSmithKline Scoops Up Sirtris”

  1. Dr. James Harding says:

    As I see it the dilemma for Sirtris, and now Glaxo is that the products they are developing already exist in effective natural, inexpensive form. Given, his synthetic analogs may be more potent or targeted against specific conditions such; however biotivia transmax, the natural form of concentrated resveratrol, is available now and has been shown in peer reviewed studies to be safe and effective. Synthetic analogs historically have been shown to be somewhat unpredictable in effect and safety. Why not simply stick with the natural form? It is here now and does not require an expensive physician’s appointment. To succeed Glaxo will have to come up with sythetic versions of resveratrol that are shown to be clearly superior to resveratrol itself and just as safe.

  2. Mary Wright says:

    Natural high potency resveratrol is available now.
    Resveratrol can help you to lead a long and healthy life so says Dr. Oz.
    Resveratrol Supplements can help you control your weight naturally
    by increasing energy, reducing cravings, and limiting your appetite.
    According to Wikipedia, Consumer Lab, an independent dietary
    supplement and over the counter products evaluation organization,
    published a report on 13 November 2007 on the popular resveratrol
    supplements. The organization reported that there exists a wide range
    in quality, dose, and price among the 13 resveratrol products
    evaluated. The actual amount of resveratrol contained in the
    different brands range from 2.2mg for Revatrol, which claimed to have
    400mg of “Red Wine Grape Complex”, to 500mg for Transmax,
    which is consistent with the amount claimed on the product’s label.
    Prices per 100mg of resveratrol ranged from less than $.30 for
    products made by, jarrow, and country life, to a high of
    $45.27 for the Revatrol brand. None of the products tested were found
    to have significant levels of heavy metals or other contaminants.

  3. Greg says:

    The t1/2 of invivo resveratrol in humans is extraordinarily short. It was not detectable in humans after an IV infusion (speaking of native resveratrol and not metabolites). There is much invitro data concerning effective applications of native resv which does not translate to animal models (likely due to inadequate exposure). As such, there is an extraordinary potential in the formulating of analogues of resveratrol. Those herbal pills likely do not have the potentail to exploit the beneficial effects resveratrol offers.

  4. “To succeed Glaxo will have to come up with sythetic versions of resveratrol that are shown to be clearly superior to resveratrol itself and just as safe.”
    I think I disagree with that, since latest news tell us even 3-4 glasses of red wine might do the trick as well- provided that you have picked the right wine. What do you believe that Sirtris will do after these news and how will people react? Will they choose the supplements or a glass of red wine?

  5. Cheryl Zeranti says:

    How can I become a member of a human trial for resveratrol?

  6. Hugh Hamilton says:

    How can I become a member of a human trial for resveratrol?

  7. Kemos says:

    I find it odd that a “resveratrol” search at GSK’s website brings up 0 results.

  8. Donna Ruffini says:

    How can I become a member of a human trial for resveratrol?


  9. Donna Ruffini says:

    please come up with an inexpensive natural form of Resveratrol to be sold locally.

    Approximately 80% of
    Americans are overweight & this seems as though it can assist, however, these people also live below the poverty line & cannot afford to pay $87/month. We need someone to care enough & avoid those imitation products being sold. The public needs the real thing at an inexpensive cost.
    thank you

  10. John Gall says:

    I have been taking 480 mg 99% Resveratrol combined with 0,350 mg Quercetin (99%) (all together as Q increases biovailability of RV.) very single day since last october 2008.
    At the time I started, I stopped all and any intake of B Agonist,steroids and anti cholinergics.(B AGONIST I STOPPED 2 YRS AGO THEY KILL)
    My FEV1 was at the time 44%.30 day s after was 48% today is is 53%.
    No medication at all.I feel great,I walked yesterday 300 meters in 3’04 and not exhausted (128 ppm).My weight is the same.My muscular mass increased and fats are gone.My liver,great,my lipids,down,choleterol,down.Sexual life:improved a lot.¡ That is fantastic ¡
    I must say that Resveratrol comes form ayurvedic medicine 300 years BC.And it should be taked in his natural form from Polygonum Cuspidatum roots and very carefully purified.Must take care from who you buy.I feel very bad at looking the marketing and irresponsible publicity from 99% of anouncements.

  11. Gina Mortimer says:

    How can I participate in the clinical trials?

  12. jerr says:

    My bet is that if this stuff really works as good as advertised– it disappears! If things sound too good to be true, if it is true it puts too many people out of business.