Merck acquires diabetes drug firm SmartCells

Merck acquires diabetes drug firm SmartCells

SmartCells Inc., a Beverly diabetes drug developer, is to be acquired by Merck & Co. Inc. for a total of about $500 million, according to a news release today.

The transaction will bring SmartCells’ outstanding stock to Merck, while SmartCell shareholders will be given an upfront cash payment, plus potential development and regulatory milestone payments.

SmartCells develops a once-daily insulin treatment called SmartInsulin, based on a patent filed in 2003 covering technology developed at MIT by company president, co-founder and CEO Todd Zion. The company has been backed financially by National Institutes of Health grants and investments from Boston Harbor Angels, Angel Healthcare Investors, Beacon Angels and Cherrystone Angel Group.

The company took in $1.8 million in a March equity investment, part of a $4 million financing round.  In 2007, SmartCells won federal grants worth up to $4.3 million to develop the technology. The company was an MIT $50K business plan competition winner in 2003.

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