Allergan said today it will partner with Rugen Therapeutics to develop new therapies for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

The deal comes just two days after Pfizer disclosed it will acquire Allergan for $160 billion, in the largest-ever merger among drug developers.

The value of the Rugen collaboration was not disclosed. Allergan said it has paid Rugen an upfront fee, and could pay Rugen additional money tied to initiating the development stage, and other milestones related to advancing compounds.

In return, Allergan will have the exclusive option to acquire all rights—including worldwide intellectual property rights and other assets related to the compounds following clinical proof of concept studies.

Allergan said it will develop new small molecule drug candidates with Rugen, which has shown efficacy for its compounds in animal models of ASD and OCD.

The research collaboration initially includes early stage compounds, which are first-in-class orally active molecules being developed for multiple CNS disorders.

“The compounds we are working to develop with Rugen are in preclinical development, but we are excited by the possibilities that these novel molecules may provide to physicians, patients and caregivers facing these disorders,” David Nicholson, Allergan evp, Global Brands Research and Development, said in a statement.

Neuroscience is one of Allergan’s therapeutic specialties, along with aesthetics and dermatology, anti-infectives, eye care, gastrointestinal, urology, and women’s health. Allergan’s announcement cited the company’s “passion and willingness to invest in people with ASD and their families” as a reason for the collaboration with Rugen.

Rugen is a start-up biotech focused on developing new treatments for unmet CNS disorders and is funded by the F-Prime Biomedical Research Initiative (FBRI), which seeks to advance new treatments for neurological disorders. Rugen's founders include Guoping Feng, PhD, Poitras Chair Professor at MIT and member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard University; and Zhigang He, PhD, a professor at Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

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