Indevus Pharmaceuticals Inc. expanded its pipeline after acquiring worldwide rights to an antifungal compound from Aventis SA.

The Lexington, Mass.-based firm licensed exclusive worldwide rights to aminocandin, a member of a new class of antifungal compounds being developed to treat a spectrum of systemic and invasive infections.

"Our business model is one of identifying and licensing in promising clinical or late preclinical candidates for development across a variety of indications," William Boni, vice president of corporate communications at Indevus, told BioWorld Today. "This compound met the bill. It had a very interesting large pharma-type preclinical dossier."

Down the road, Boni said aminocandin could be licensed out following a battery of clinical tests. But in the near term, Indevus expects to begin Phase I testing on the compound this year.

The company plans to test an intravenous formulation of the compound initially, though it expects the candidate to become the first orally administered drug from the echinocandin class. Indevus said it plans to pursue an oral formulation in parallel with its intravenous clinical program.

"Based on preclinical studies of aminocandin, we think its bioavailability profile suggests that a once a day might be possible," Boni said. "An oral echinocandin would have some real promise as a prophylactic therapy for patients with compromised immune systems who are at risk for serious fungal infection. Once they have left the hospital, an oral formulation would serve a very important role in extending longer-term therapy."

Indevus is responsible for all development and commercialization activities for both intravenous and oral formulations of aminocandin on a worldwide basis.

Lyon, France-based Aventis agreed to manufacture a key component of aminocandin, using its fermentation technology. In exchange for those rights and for Aventis' inventory of aminocandin, Indevus will make an up-front licensing payment to Aventis, as well as milestone payments and royalties on future sales. More specific financial details were not disclosed.

Indevus said the preclinical profile of the compound positions it as competitive with other classes of antifungal agents and with other echinocandins, the first new class of antifungal agents developed in more than 40 years.

"This class of drugs is designed to be fungicidal, to kill the fungi rather than simply to inhibit their growth," Boni said. "In addition, the class has broad-spectrum activity against fungi that are responsible for serious systemic infections."

Already in its pipeline, Indevus' core products include trospium for overactive bladder, pagoclone for panic and anxiety disorders, citicoline for ischemic stroke, IP 751 for pain and inflammation and PRO 2000 for the prevention of infection by HIV and other sexually transmitted pathogens.

Indevus' stock (NASDAQ:IDEV) gained 3 cents Wednesday to close at $3.61.