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Arena Pharmaceuticals Launches Independent Incubator

Local drugmaker Arena Pharmaceuticals Inc. has launched a new and independent incubator called Beacon Discovery, the company announced Sept. 1.

The incubator will focus on the discovery stage of product development, identifing potential research targets that might develop into products down the road.

Although an independent entity, Arena will help Beacon find partners in the pharmaceutical industry. The drugmaker will also have rights to compounds from Beacon, and can score “certain rights to potential cash flows” in the future, according to an Arena news release.

Arena’s move to launch Beacon Discovery is interesting in light of the company’s recent reorganization. Founder and longtime CEO Jack Lief stepped down from Arena last year, and the current CEO Amit Munshi has shaken things up since assuming the helm.

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In June, Munshi shifted Arena’s strategy by directing the company’s attention toward the pipeline rather than focusing all efforts on its weightloss drug Belviq (which has had disappointing sales since launch).

Arena’s options are varied, as its pipeline is stocked with product candidates for ulcerative colitis, pain and pulmonary arterial hypertension. The company also has a $262 million collaboration with Boehringer on a central nervous system platform.

Beacon’s launch appears to be another way Munshi is shoring up Arena’s place in the market.

“The formation of Beacon underscores both our commitment to transitioning Arena from a historically research-oriented organization to a high-performing clinical development organization and our commitment to maximizing the value of our assets,” said Munshi said. “We believe that Beacon has the potential to unlock the value of Arena’s historical research platform for the long-term benefit of patients and shareholders.”

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