Array BioPharma will co-develop and co-commercialize its ARRY-954 with Asahi Kasei Pharma in most of the world for pain, inflammation, and other noncancer indications, in a deal that could generate up to $76 million for Array.

ARRY-954 is among tropomyosin receptor kinase A (TrkA) inhibitors to be co-developed through the collaboration. Activation of the TrkA pathway by nerve growth factor (NGF) has been implicated in human pain conditions that include osteoarthritis pain, chronic low back pain, diabetic peripheral neuropathy, cancer pain, and interstitial cystitis.

The companies cited preclinical studies, which they said showed that blocking the NGF/TrkA signaling axis with small molecule kinase inhibitors blocked peripheral pain responses in in vivo models representing human pain conditions of high unmet need.

Array, a small molecule cancer drug developer, will retain rights to all compounds subject to the collaboration for all indications outside of Asia. Within Asia, Array retains the right to cancer indications for all compounds, excluding those compounds being developed by Asahi Kasei Pharma, including ARRY-954.

However, Asahi Kasei Pharma will have exclusive rights to develop and commercialize products in China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan for pain, inflammation, and other noncancer indications.

Asahi Kasei Pharma agreed to pay Array $12 million upfront, with Array also eligible for up to $64 million tied to achieving development and commercialization milestones, as well as double-digit royalties.

Ron Squarer, CEO of Asahi Kasei Pharma, said in a statement that his company “is committed to advancing the program into clinical development which will unlock its potential future value.”

Asahi Kasei Pharma added that the deal reflected its desire to expand into chronic pain as its next area of therapeutic focus. The company already promotes Elcitonin™ for pain with osteoporosis and previously co-promoted the anti-inflammatory drug Voltaren® with Novartis in Japan.

The company’s other marketed products include Flivas™ for benign prostatic hyperplasia; Toledomin™, Japan’s first serotonin–noradrenalin reuptake inhibitor antidepressant; the anticoagulant Recomodulin™ for disseminated intravascular coagulation; Teribone™ for osteoporosis; and NEOXY™ Tape, a transdermal overactive bladder treatment medication.

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