Allergan will make Molecular Partners a combined up-front payment of $62.5 million as part of two new agreements centered on the discovery, development, and commercialization of DARPin® (Designed Ankyrin Repeat Protein) therapeutics for treating serious ophthalmic disorders. Molecular Partners could receive up to another $1.4 billion in aggregate development, regulatory, and sales milestones, plus tiered royalties on future product sales. Last year Allergan negotiated exclusive global rights to Molecular Partners’ Phase II-stage VEGF-targeting DARPin candidate MP0112, which is in development for treating retinal diseases including wet AMD and diabetic macular edema.
One of the two new agreements gives Allergan an exclusive license to develop and commercialize MP0260, a dual anti-VEGF-A/PDGF-B DARPin, as well as backup compounds for treating exudative age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and related conditions. The firms will work together to develop MP0260 through human proof-of-concept studies, and Molecular Partners has the option to subsequently co-fund Allergan’s costs for downstream development of the product in return for higher future sales royalties.
The second deal takes the form of an exclusive discovery alliance through which the partners will collaborate on the design and development of DARPins against targets implicated in serious eye diseases. Allergan retains an option to exclusively license up to three resulting compounds for ophthalmology. Upon exercising an option, the firm will pay Molecular Partners an option fee and take on responsibility for all subsequent development, manufacturing, and commercialization activities.
“With Allergan we have found the ideal partner to generate a strong pipeline of DARPin-based drug candidates with the goal to treat retinal and other severe ocular disease,” remarks Christian Zahnd, Ph.D., CEO at Molecular Partners. “This significant expansion of our agreement together with the fast progress in the ongoing Phase IIb development of AGN-150998/MP0112 is a great validation of the DARPin approach.”