Biogen Idec enters global collaboration for oral Syk inhibitor program with Portola

Biogen Idec (NASDAQ: BIIB) and Portola Pharmaceuticals, Inc. today announced that they have entered into an exclusive, worldwide collaboration and license agreement under which both companies will develop and commercialize highly selective, novel oral Syk inhibitors for the treatment of various autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

“This partnership is an excellent scientific and cultural fit between two biotech companies”

The collaboration's lead molecule, PRT062607, has been shown to be a highly potent and specific oral inhibitor of Syk in a broad panel of in vitro kinase and cellular assays and is currently in Phase 1 studies. Results of the studies to date suggest the compound is well tolerated and has a profile suitable for once-daily dosing.

Under the terms of the agreement, Biogen Idec will provide Portola with an upfront payment of $36 million in cash and purchase $9 million in Portola equity, with additional payments of up to $508.5 million based on the achievement of certain development and regulatory milestones. Biogen Idec will lead the global development and commercialization efforts for the Syk inhibitor program in major indications such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, while Portola will lead U.S. development and commercialization efforts for select smaller indications as well as discovery efforts for follow-on Syk inhibitors. Portola retains an option to co-promote alongside Biogen Idec in the United States in major indications. Worldwide costs and profits will be split by Biogen and Portola 75 percent and 25 percent, respectively.

"We are enthusiastic to be working with Portola to advance its Syk inhibitor as a potential treatment for autoimmune diseases," said George A. Scangos, Ph.D., CEO of Biogen Idec. "This program is an excellent strategic fit with our focus on immunology. Portola is a high-quality company with a great track record in small molecules, and we have crafted a collaboration that truly is a win for both companies. We will now focus on a thoughtful and aggressive program to fully explore the potential of Portola's compounds against this very interesting target, with the goal of creating an effective, safe and convenient oral treatment for patients with debilitating autoimmune and inflammatory diseases."

"A significant portion of people with rheumatoid arthritis do not respond to currently approved treatments or have only modest responses, and treatment options for lupus are limited," said Doug Williams, Ph.D., Executive Vice President, Research and Development of Biogen Idec. "Inhibition of Syk has the potential to provide effective, well-tolerated therapies for patients with these and other autoimmune diseases. We are encouraged by the preclinical and clinical data to date and see an opportunity to develop a best-in-class, highly selective oral treatment for these devastating diseases. This program plays to our strengths and experience in immunology, particularly B-cell biology, reflects our focus on cutting-edge science, and strengthens our early-stage pipeline."

"This partnership is an excellent scientific and cultural fit between two biotech companies," said William Lis, CEO of Portola. "Biogen Idec is a world-class R&D organization with a significant global footprint and track record of success in developing and commercializing innovative autoimmune disease therapies. For Portola, the terms of this collaboration reflect the scientific advances we've made in the discovery of orally available kinase inhibitors and our vision to commercialize products with clear and meaningful value. Partnering with Biogen Idec provides us with the resources and added expertise to pursue the full potential of our Syk inhibitor program."

Completion of the transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including antitrust clearance by the U.S. Government under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act.


Biogen Idec and Portola Pharmaceuticals, Inc.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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