AstraZeneca signaled today it will take no breather from smaller, targeted “bolt-on” deals by in-licensing Synairgen’s clinical-phase drug SNG001, in a deal that could net Synairgen up to $232.25 million and should shore up the pharma giant’s respiratory pipeline.

SNG001 is an inhaled interferon beta (IFN-beta) for respiratory tract viral infections in patients with severe asthma. AstraZeneca said it plans early next years to launch a Phase IIa study of SNG001 in patients with severe asthma—a trial it said would build on available clinical data from an initial Phase lla trial in a broad asthma population.

Respiratory disease is within one of AstraZeneca’s three core therapeutic areas, in a combined category that includes inflammation & autoimmunity diseases. The company’s two other core areas are oncology; and cardiovascular and metabolic disease.

AstraZeneca said it also envisions expanded uses for SNG001 in other pulmonary diseases.

“SNG001 is an innovative and targeted therapy that has, if successful, the potential to offer a step-change in the treatment of severe asthma, and possibly [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or] COPD,” Maarten Kraan, AstraZeneca’s head of respiratory, inflammation & autoimmune innovative medicines, said in a statement.

SNG001 is designed to deliver IFN-beta to the lungs when a common cold or other infection begins to develop in the upper airways. The inhaled IFN-beta is supposed to boost the anti-viral defense and combat the spread of the virus.

SNG001 was discovered at the University of Southampton, and was initially commercialized when Synairgen was founded by three researchers based at the university, Professors Stephen Holgate, MB BS, M.D., DSc; Donna Davies, Ph.D.; and Ratko Djukanovic, M.D., D.M., FRCP.

AstraZeneca agreed to pay Synairgen $7.25 million upfront as well as up to $225 million tied to development, regulatory, and commercial milestones. Also, AstraZeneca agreed to pay Synairgen tiered royalties ranging from single-digit up to the mid-teens on commercial sales. AstraZeneca said it will be responsible for future development costs.

AstraZeneca’s licensing deal with Synairgen comes less than a month after the pharma survived weeks of wooing by Pfizer. It made several unsuccessful offers for AstraZeneca, the last of which was for £69 billion ($116 billion) before throwing in the towel last month.

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