NicOx S.A. has announced it has signed an extension of its March 2006 collaboration agreement, which grants Pfizer Inc the exclusive right to apply its proprietary nitric oxide-donating technology to drug discovery research in the field of ophthalmology.
This one-year extension of the research phase of the agreement will result in NicOx receiving 3 million euro in research funding in March 2008 and prolongs Pfizer's option to license resulting compounds until May 2009.
The joint NicOx-Pfizer research team has been focusing its work on several separate projects, which have involved identifying and testing different classes of nitric oxide-donating compounds that could become treatments for major ocular diseases. In the most advanced project, encouraging results have been observed for various compounds in in vitro and in vivo preclinical models of a prevalent eye disease.
Ennio Ongini, Vice President of Research at NicOx, declared: "We believe Pfizer's decision to renew this agreement demonstrates its confidence in the joint research team and the potential of NicOx' technology to yield new drug candidates for eye disorders. Considerable progress has been made in the research programs and we are expecting that the collaboration will generate a future candidate for development in a major ocular condition."
Under the terms of the agreement (see press release of March 2, 2006), Pfizer paid NicOx an upfront technology license fee of 5 million euro and made a 15 million euro equity investment in the Company during 2006. Pfizer has also paid NicOx 6 million euro in research funding since signature, in the form of two annual payments of 3 million euro in 2006 and 2007. NicOx will receive a further 3 million euro in research funding in 2008, due to this extension of the research phase of the agreement. Pfizer now has the option to obtain an exclusive worldwide license to develop and commercialize compounds resulting from the research program, in the field of ophthalmology until May 2009. The agreement provides for total potential milestone payments in excess of 300 million euro in the ophthalmology field, of which 102 million euro would arise from the successful full development and launch of the first compound.
Eye diseases affect millions of people worldwide and can lead to impaired vision or total blindness. Many important eye conditions still have no effective treatment, while improved drugs are needed in other areas. Furthermore, the ageing of the population has led to rapidly growing incidence of these conditions in the world's major pharmaceutical markets. Glaucoma, Age Related Macular Degeneration and Diabetic Retinopathy are some of the most prevalent ophthalmic disorders in the developed world.
An earlier collaboration agreement was executed by the parties in August 2004 and focused specifically on the research and development of nitric oxide- donating prostaglandin F2-alpha analogs for the treatment of glaucoma. The selected candidate from this earlier agreement, PF-03187207, is in phase 2 clinical development and two separate studies are currently ongoing in the United States and Japan (see press releases of March 28 & 29, 2007 and January 3, 2008).