3-Dimensional Pharmaceuticals Inc. entered into an exclusive licensing agreement with GlaxoSmithKline plc that gives 3DP worldwide development, marketing and distribution rights to a compound for a condition associated with chemotherapy.

The preclinical compound, GW 395058, is for the prevention and treatment of thrombocytopenia, or low blood platelet counts.

This is the first compound that 3DP has in-licensed for its portfolio, said Scott Horvitz, vice president of finance and administration at 3DP, which focuses its internal discovery efforts on metabolic diseases and cancer.

3DP, of Yardley, Pa., will pay GSK up to $20.1 million in stock for rights to the drug and milestones.

“We were looking for opportunities that would complement our oncology pipeline, and we were also looking for opportunities that would have been put on the shelf for commercial reasons [instead of for] having any overall development risk,” said Roger Bone, senior vice president of research and development, noting that GW 395058 “just missed” London-based GSK’s cutoff criteria for commercial development.

The compound is a pegylated synthetic thrombopoietin mimetic peptide that stimulates blood platelet production. Low platelet counts, resulting from chemotherapy as well as other disease treatments, causes prolonged blood clotting, increased risk of bruising and, in extreme cases, internal hemorrhaging. That can require a delay or a decrease in dosing of chemotherapy.

In return for rights to the compound, 3DP will make an up-front payment of 500,000 shares, worth about $4.2 million based on Tuesday’s opening share price of $8.39. 3DP also will make milestone payments that could result in the company giving GSK 2.4 million shares in total, which were valued at about $20.1 million.

“It’s a cashless transaction, and that’s one of the things that made it attractive,” Graham Brazier, senior vice president of corporate development at 3DP, told BioWorld Today.

Horvitz said the company plans to file an investigational new drug application either late this year or early in 2003. Brazier said that 3DP already has its own third-party manufacturer designated for the production of the compound for trials.

In the meantime, additional preclinical studies will be conducted on GW 395058.

“This is not a change in strategy,” Horvitz said. “It is complementary to a strategy of enhancing our existing cancer-focused pipeline programs, and if the right opportunity exists, we would consider a similar transaction.”

3DP worked with GSK’s Genetics & Discovery Ventures Team on the transaction.

3DP’s stock (NASDAQ:DDDP) gained 10 cents Tuesday to close at $8.49.