Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. on Thursday announced itssecond major corporate alliance in a deal that will bring a $10million equity investment from Glaxo Holdings plc andadditional research and milestone payments.
The collaboration will explore treatments for nervous systemconditions ranging from pain, eye disorders and stroke toincurable, progressive diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson'sand Huntington's.
In a 1990 alliance, Amgen Inc. acquired 7.2 percent ofRegeneron for $15 million and committed up to $38 million inresearch and development spending for work on neurotrophicfactor (BDNF) and neurotrophic-3 (NT-3), which will becommercialized by the Amgen Regeneron Partners jointventure.
Amgen announced Monday it has filed an investigational newdrug application for use of BDNF in amyotrophic lateralsclerosis (ALS), which affects some 30,000 Americans.
Glaxo, the world's second-largest pharmaceutical company,obtained a "little over" 3 percent equity in Regeneron with its$10 million investment, Glaxo spokesman Phillip Connolly said.The company will commit some of its 50-odd researchers whowork in neuropharmacology to the effort, which will revolvearound developing an understanding of the molecularmechanism of action of neurotrophins such as BDNF, NT-3 andciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF).
The partnership also will focus on the identification of genesinvolved in synapse formation and the control of neuronal celldeath.
Ideally, the research will identify small, orally active moleculesthat can penetrate the blood-brain barrier, although otherfeasible compounds will not be ruled out, Connolly said.
He would not characterize the amount of R&D spendingcommitted to the project, which is perhaps the 10th pact with abiotechnology company made by Glaxo to date. But he said,with the highest R&D spending of any pharmaceutical company,"We're a big spender." This expense is partially because Glaxoonly works in prescription medicines and ethicalpharmaceuticals without any over-the-counter or relatedconsumer products.
Nearly 7 million Americans suffer from degenerativeneurological diseases and peripheral neuropathies that mightbe treated through an enhanced understanding of neurotrophic,or "nerve growth," factors.
Analyst Franklin Berger of Josephthal Lyon & Ross said heanticipates that the collaboration will build on Regeneron'swork in cloning receptors for neurologic factors. "Once you'vecloned a receptor, you can screen to your heart's content," hesaid. "Glaxo is very good in medicinal chemistry."
Regeneron has established a reputation for gathering a strongscientific team. Attracting corporate partners such as Amgenand Glaxo adds "an important inspirational aspect," Berger said.
Leonard Schleifer, Regeneron's president and chief executiveofficer, said the alliance should "create a formidable group" thatwill also investigate psychiatric diseases.
The companies will identify pharmaceutical agents through ajoint management committee comprised equally of membersfrom each company. Glaxo will manage and finance humansafety trials. Further development will be handled by Glaxowith both companies sharing equally in the expense.
Any products will be sold by joint ventures established by thecompanies. Glaxo will manufacture the products and bothcompanies will equally share sales revenues. Glaxo will payRegeneron research financing for each product candidate asmilestones are met.
Regeneron's stock closed at $20 a share on Thursday, up 25cents.
-- Nancy Garcia Associate Editor
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