Biogen will pay another $508.5 million in milestone fees.

Biogen Idec is paying Portola Pharmaceuticals $36 million in cash and $9 million in equity under an exclusive, worldwide collaboration to conduct R&D in autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Specifically, they will work to develop and commercialize highly selective, novel oral Syk inhibitors. Biogen has agreed to make additional payments of up to $508.5 million based on the achievement of certain development and regulatory milestones.

The collaboration’s lead molecule, Portola’s Phase I PRT062607, has been shown to be a highly potent and specific oral inhibitor of Syk in a broad panel of in vitro kinase and cellular assays, Biogen and Portola state. The compound is in Phase I trials in RA, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and chronic lymphocytic leukemia as well as in additional preclinical studies.

Biogen Idec will lead global development and commercialization efforts for the Syk inhibitor program in major indications such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, while Portola will lead U.S. development and commercialization efforts for select smaller indications. Portola will also be in charge of discovery efforts for follow-on Syk inhibitors.

Portola retains an option to co-promote in the U.S. in major indications. Worldwide costs and profits will be split by Biogen and Portola 75 percent and 25 percent, respectively.

“This program is an excellent strategic fit with our focus on immunology,” notes George A. Scangos, Ph.D., CEO of Biogen Idec. “Portola is a high-quality company with a great track record in small molecules, and we have crafted a collaboration that truly is a win for both companies. We will now focus on a thoughtful and aggressive program to fully explore the potential of Portola’s compounds against this very interesting target, with the goal of creating an effective, safe, and convenient oral treatment for patients with debilitating autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.”

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