For psoriasis sufferers, help may be on the way: 4SC's subsidiary 4SC Discovery is now in an exclusive research and license agreement with Ballerup, Denmark-based pharmaceutical company LEO Pharma, the primary aim of which is to jointly research, develop, and commercialize an oral treatment for inflammatory skin diseases such as psoriasis.
Under the agreement, LEO Pharma will issue an up-front payment of €1 million (approximately $1.3 million) to 4SC Discovery and additional funding for research and development. LEO Pharma will receive an exclusive option to license the worldwide marketing and commercialization rights of the compound for use in inflammatory skin diseases including psoriasis and other therapeutic areas. 4SC Discovery will be eligible for a milestone payment of up to €3 million (around $3.9 million) and further payments upon achieving specific development milestones of up to €92 million ($120.4 million) as well as up to double-digit royalties.
What kind of treatment is worth over $120 million? The firms say the collaboration has the potential to result in a novel and convenient breakthrough therapy for chronic skin conditions: the compound being investigated, which is currently in the early development state, has already been shown to significantly reduce if not entirely eradicate symptoms of psoriasis in preclinical models.
LEO Pharma says the deal marks the latest milestone in their growth strategy, which involves actively seeking new opportunities to expand the company pipeline for the benefit of patients. They also signed an in-licensing deal with the biotech company Virobay in January of 2012 to develop an investigational oral treatment for psoriasis. The deal involved an up-front payment to Virobay of $7 million, followed by milestone payments totaling up to $300 million and tiered royalties.
For 4SC Discovery, they say the agreement marks a key early-stage partnering deal with one of the company's compounds from its research. "Our goal is now to speed up and jointly develop a novel breakthrough therapy addressing the high medical need in chronic inflammatory skin diseases such as psoriasis," Daniel Vitt, Ph.D., managing director of 4SC Discovery and CSO at 4SC, said. "This partnership again demonstrates the great expertise and scientific potential of 4SC in the fields of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases."
4SC Discovery isn't just focused on skin conditions: in December, they entered into a research and license agreement with BioNTech, under which 4SC Discovery received from BioNTech an up-front payment of €2.5 million (approximately $3.3 million) for its small molecule toll-like receptor (TLR) agonists as an anticancer immunotherapy. According to 4SC, this was the company’s first early-stage partnering deal with one of the programs from its research engine.