Cephalon is paying Alba Therapeutics $7 million to secure an option for the future purchase of its clinical-stage larazotide acetate candidate for the treatment of celiac disease. The oral peptide-based tight junction modulator is progressing toward Phase IIb development, and Cephalon has the right to exercise its purchase option during a specified time period after full Phase IIb trial results have been reported. If Cephalon does decide to take on the larazotide assets, the firm will pay Alba $15 million, and potentially additional regulatory and sales milestones.
Alba has been working on larazotide R&D for the last six years, and the peptide has already been tested in some 450 celiac disease patients. Cephalon says results to date have been encouraging. “Alba will now initiate a Phase IIb trial utilizing a more disease-specific primary endpoint. “If successful, larazotide acetate will add to our pipeline in immunology and has the potential to be the first pharmacologic therapy available to treat patients who endure this often serious condition.”