Creation of Thiakis Ltd and Profitable Sale to Wyeth Ltd.
Submitting InstitutionImperial College London
Unit of AssessmentClinical Medicine
Summary Impact TypeTechnological
Research Subject Area(s)
Medical and Health Sciences: Clinical Sciences, Nutrition and Dietetics, Medical Physiology
Summary of the impact
Imperial College research on the gut hormone, oxyntomodulin, showed it
caused considerable weight loss in man. A powerful long acting analogue
suitable for daily human administration (TKS1225) was developed. This was
licensed by Imperial to a spinout, Thiakis Ltd, for successful human
toxicity testing and then sold to Wyeth for $30 million initially and $120
million on meeting milestones. Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and the full legal
agreement was subsequently acquired and developed by Pfizer in 2009.
Key Imperial College London researchers:
Professor Sir Steve Bloom, Professor of Medicine (1974-present)
Professor Mohammad Ghatei, Professor of Peptide Endocrinology
Dr Caroline Small, Senior Lecturer (2000-2007)
Dr Rachel Batterham, Wellcome Trust Clinical Training Fellow (2000-2003)
The obesity pandemic has proved difficult to treat due to chronic side
effects of central acting drugs. In an attempt to deduce the side effect
profile, the Imperial team, Professor Bloom's group has pioneered the use
of gut hormones as natural appetite regulators. In 1996 the group
demonstrated that the gut hormone, GLP-1 injected into the brain inhibited
feeding in rats (1). This established this gut hormone as naturally
regulating satiety after every meal. In 2002, they demonstrated that a
second gut hormone PYY3-36 inhibits food intake and reduces weight gain in
A third gut hormone, oxyntomodulin, was then discovered by the group to
similarly reduce food intake but uniquely to also increase energy
expenditure and thereby reducing body weight (3). This hormone is elevated
in many natural human situations where low body weight is a feature.
Ground breaking studies by the group in 2003, demonstrated that
oxyntomodulin reduced food intake in man. Administration of the gut
hormone oxyntomodulin in human volunteers resulted in weight loss of 0.5kg
per week over four weeks, greater than for any other therapy with the
advantage of having no side effects (4, 5). The weight loss was due to
oxyntomodulin's dual effect of reducing food intake and increasing energy
expenditure, an effect not documented with other therapies. Oxyntomodulin
was thus a strong lead for development of an obesity therapy.
Oxyntomodulin is rapidly degraded by the body as it is inactivated by
enzyme action. Studies therefore focused on developing a long acting
oxyntomodulin analogue which became the drug TKS 1225 (6). As a result of
this research work a number of patents were filed and an Imperial College
spin out company Thiakis was founded in 2004.
In 2006, Thiakis undertook a venture capital funding round jointly led by
leading life science venture capital groups, Novo A/S and Advent Venture
partners and including the Royal Society. Thiakis used this £10 million
investment to undertake toxicity testing of the drug TKS 1225 in animals
and then undertook successful testing in man.
In 2008, Wyeth acquired Thiakis for $30 million cash with additional
payments of $120 million payable upon the achievement of development
milestones. Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and the full legal agreement was
subsequently acquired and developed by Pfizer in 2009.
References to the research
(1) Turton, M.D., O'Shea, D., Gunn, I., Beak, S.A., Edwards, C.M.,
Meeran, K., Choi, S.J., Taylor, G.M., Heath, M.M., Lambert, P.D., Wilding,
J.P., Smith, D.M., Ghatei, M.A., Herbert, J., Bloom, S.R. (1996). A role
for glucagon-like peptide-1 in the central regulation of feeding. Nature,
379, 69-72. DOI. Times
cited: 927 (as at 7th November 2013 on ISI Web of Science).
Journal Impact Factor: 36.2
(2) Batterham, R.L., Cowley, M.A., Small, C.J., Herzog, H., Cohen, M.A.,
Dakin, C.L., Wren, A.M., Brynes, A.E., Low, M.J., Ghatei, M.A., Cone,
R.D., Bloom, S.R. (2002). Gut hormone PYY3-36 physiologically inhibits
food intake. Nature, 418, 650-654. DOI.
Times cited: 988 (as at 7th November 2013 on ISI Web of
Science). Journal Impact Factor: 36.2
(3) Dakin, C.L., Small, C.J., Batterham, R.L., Neary, N.M., Cohen, M.A.,
Patterson, M., Ghatei, M.A., Bloom, S.R. (2004). Peripheral oxyntomodulin
reduces food intake and body weight gain in rats. Endocrinology,
145, 2687-2695. DOI.
Times cited: 147 (as at 7th November 2013 on ISI Web of
Science). Journal Impact Factor: 4.45
(4) Cohen, M.A., Ellis, S.M., Le Roux, C.W., Batterham, R.L., Park, A.,
Patterson, M., Frost, G.S., Ghatei, M.A., Bloom, S.R. (2003).
Oxyntomodulin suppresses appetite and reduces food intake in humans. J
Clin Endocrinol Metab, 88, 4696-4701. DOI.
Times cited: 186 (as at 7th November 2013 on ISI Web of
Science). Journal Impact Factor: 5.96
(5) Wynne, K., Park, A.J., Small, C.J., Patterson, M., Ellis, S.M.,
Murphy, K.G., Wren, A.M., Frost, G.S., Meeran, K., Ghatei, M.A., Bloom,
S.R. (2005). Subcutaneous oxyntomodulin reduces body weight in overweight
and obese subjects: a double-blind, randomized, controlled trial. Diabetes,
54, 2390-2395. DOI.
Times cited: 121 (as at 7th November 2013 on ISI Web of
Science). Journal Impact Factor: 8.28
(6) Druce, M.R., Minion, J.S., Field, B.C.T., Patel, S.R., Shillito,
J.C., Tilby, M., Beale, K.E., Murphy, K.G., Ghatei, M.A., Bloom, S.R.
(2009). Investigation of structure-activity relationships of oxyntomodulin
(OXM) using OXM analogues. Endocrinology, 150, 1712-1722. DOI.
Times cited: 26 (as at 7th November 2013 on ISI Web of
Science). Journal Impact Factor: 4.45
• WO2004062685. Modification of feeding behaviour and weight control by
oxyntomodulin. Bloom, S.R., Ghatei, M.A., Small, C., Dakin, C. http://bit.ly/diYY5o
• WO2006134340. Oxyntomodulin analogues and their effects on feeding
behaviour. Bloom, S.R., Ghatei, M.A. http://bit.ly/cRJADi
• WO2003057235. Modification of feeding behaviour. Bloom, S.R., Small,
C., Batterham, R., Ghatei, M. http://bit.ly/d6LAvM
• Medical Research Council Programme (G7811974) and two Wellcome Trust
Programme Grants have supported this work.
Details of the impact
Impacts include: economic, commercial
Main beneficiaries include: industry
Our researchers have developed and sold a spin-out company, Thiakis Ltd,
which investigated analogues for obesity therapy. It is the commercial
company development and financial benefit of the sale that has had
significant economic impact.
In December 2008, Thiakis Ltd was sold to Wyeth Pharmaceuticals to
develop Thiakis' lead product TKS 1225, a synthetic analogue of
oxyntomodulin. Wyeth acquired Thiakis for approximately $30 million with
additional payments of $120 million conditional on the achievement of set
milestones. Wyeth Pharmaceuticals was subsequently acquired by Pfizer in
In 2010 the intellectual capital and analogue modification knowledge
developed by Professor Bloom at Imperial has resulted in further peptide
hormones (Pancreatic Polypeptide) being developed at Imperial as an
anti-obesity treatment. An award from the Wellcome Trust Seeding Drug
discovery was made to Professor Bloom to develop further gut hormones as
anti-obesity therapy. This award utilises the knowledge base of analogue
development that has been created as part of the Imperial research
programme . This has lead to the employment of 5 people at Imperial who
perform this analogue research programme.
The success of Thiakis was used as a model by Imperial Innovations Ltd
during its flotation on the stock market. Thiakis demonstrated to
investors that Imperial Innovations Ltd could take inventions from the
initial academic discovery through the patenting and venture capital phase
and into the commercial arena. Thiakis was utilised by Imperial
Innovations Ltd as a successful case study that allowed investment to be
raised. This investment round in Imperial Innovations Ltd has provided
investment capital for further spin out and commercialisation of academic
The work described has stimulated a new area of pharmaceutical research
and development. International drug companies such as Merck, Novo Nordisk
and Lilly have developed Oxyntomodulin research programmes following the
success of Thiakis and the Imperial research programme described .
These programmes demonstrate the commercial adoption of the new technology
of obesity analogue originally preformed at Imperial.
Sources to corroborate the impact
 Wyeth acquire Thiakis
Archived on 7th
 Wellcome Trust Seeding Drug Discovery Award
Archived on 7th
Interim Report 2009
 New pharmaceutical development
(archived on 7th
(archived on 7th