Swiss biotech Polyphor Ltd. and U.S. drugmaker Allergan Inc. are teaming up to develop a new class of molecules that could be developed into drugs for eye diseases and conditions, in a deal that would provide Polyphor with $7 million up front.
Allschwil, Switzerland-based Polyphor also would be entitled to receive up to $61 million in research, development and first commercial sales milestone payments, plus royalties on product sales.
Under the agreement, Irvine, Calif.-based Allergan and privately held Polyphor will conduct a research program to identify compounds suitable for local delivery to the eye in combination with Allergan's drug delivery systems. Allergan will advance compounds that arise from the research collaboration through clinical development.
Caroline Hove, vice president of corporate communications at Allergan, told BioWorld Today, "This agreement will further advance Allergan's existing eye care product portfolio and pipeline, which is composed of treatments for dry eye, glaucoma, external disease and diseases of the retina."
She said the collaboration gives Allergan rights to develop protein epitope mimetics (PEM) cytokine inhibitors for the treatment of eye diseases. Hove could not disclose additional details about the collaboration, saying that the agreement is still in the early stages.
Daniel Obrecht, chief scientific officer of Polyphor, said in a statement, "By targeting a novel mode of action, we hope to be able to offer advancement in therapy to patients who are in high need for efficacious treatments of serious and debilitating diseases." Polyphor executives in Switzerland were not immediately available for further comment on the collaboration.
The PEM technology has resulted in a new class of molecules that draws on the advantages of both small molecules and biopharmaceuticals, according to Polyphor
Founded in 1996, Polyphor established a portfolio of drug discovery projects by applying the PEM technology.
The portfolio includes POL6326, a Phase II-ready candidate in oncology, a pre-investigational new drug PEM antibiotic POL7080, several internal preclinical PEM drug candidates and a patent position in the area of protein epitope mimetics
In the area of ophthalmology, Allergan's eye care product portfolio includes Restasis for dry eye, Lumigan for glaucoma, Optive over-the-counter eye drops and the Refresh line of artificial tears. Its other products include Botox cosmetic treatment and the Lap-Band device for obesity.
In another recent deal announced last week, Allergan joined with Spectrum Pharmaceuticals Inc. to develop and market a bladder cancer product candidate, Eoquin (apaziquone). Under that deal, Allergan agreed to pay Spectrum $41.5 million up front and will make additional payments of up to $304 million based on the achievement of development, regulatory and commercialization milestones. (See BioWorld Today, Oct. 30, 2008.)
Shares in Allergan (NYSE:AGN) were up 38 cents closing Friday at $39.67.