AstraZeneca and Evotec have launched a research collaboration focused on developing new drugs for kidney disease—the second partnership involving entities of the pharma giant and the German drug discovery alliance and development partnership company. The value of the collaboration was not disclosed.

Evotec said today it will license a series of molecules identified by its own drug-discovery platform to AstraZeneca as part of a systematic kidney disease initiative. The molecules are possible candidates for addressing a key mechanism in chronic kidney disease. AstraZeneca will provide pharmaceutical development expertise and marketing capabilities for the compounds, as well as industrial scope and scale for manufacturing.

Evotec will receive from AstraZeneca an undisclosed up-front payment, research funding for work to be conducted with AstraZeneca, and payments tied to undisclosed preclinical, clinical, and regulatory milestones. Evotec is also eligible for additional future milestone and royalty payments related to commercialization of products developed through the collaboration.

Kidney disease is within one of three AstraZeneca core therapeutic specialties identified in March by CEO Pascal Soriot. The first is cardiovascular and metabolic diseases (CVMD); the second is oncology; and the third is respiratory, inflammation, and autoimmunity diseases. Soriot halved the company’s number of core therapeutic areas in March as part of a restructuring that will continue through 2016, eliminating an additional 3,900 jobs.

Within CVMD, AstraZeneca focuses its small molecule R&D on potential new treatments for strategic areas that include diabetic nephropathy and end-stage as well as chronic kidney disease.

“Our goal is to identify and develop effective therapies to halt or slow down the decline of renal function for patients suffering from kidney diseases,” Marcus Schindler, Ph.D., vp and head of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases iMed iScience with AstraZeneca, said in a statement. “This new collaboration complements our research efforts in the renal disease space.”

AstraZeneca joins numerous biopharmas in establishing long-term drug discovery collaborations with Evotec—including AZ’s own MedImmune subsidiary, with which Evotec has a diabetes collaboration stretching back to December 2010. In January, Evotec received a payment of €500,000 (about $682,750) for reaching an undisclosed “key” milestone, triggering the granting of a commercial license to MedImmune and an extension of the companies’ collaboration through this year.

Evotec has additional discovery alliances with partners that include Bayer, Boehringer Ingelheim, CHDI, Genentech, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, and Ono Pharmaceutical. In addition, Evotec has existing development partnerships and product candidates—both in clinical and preclinical development—with Boehringer Ingelheim, MedImmune, and Andromeda (Teva) in diabetes, with Janssen Pharmaceuticals in depression, and with Roche in Alzheimer’s disease.

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