Merck to buy SmartCells to gain diabetes product

NEW YORK (BestGrowthStock) – Merck & Co (MRK.N: ) plans to buy privately held SmartCells Inc, whose main technology was developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and which is in preclinical development for a new form of insulin.

The deal, which is expected to close next week, has the potential to exceed $500 million if various clinical and regulatory milestones are reached, Merck said on Thursday. SmartCells also receives an upfront payment, but a Merck spokesman declined to specify the amount of the payment.

SmartCells is developing an insulin that auto-regulates in response to glucose concentration in the body. Such a product has the potential to limit the extent of blood-glucose monitoring by diabetics and to reduce incidents of low blood sugar, the companies said.

Merck currently markets the big-selling Type 2 diabetes drugs, Januvia and Janumet.

(Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf, Additional reporting by Sakthi Prasad in Bangalore; Editing by Dan Lalor and Gerald E. McCormick)

Merck to buy SmartCells to gain diabetes product