Celgene will use Concert Pharmaceuticals’ deuterated chemical entity (DCE) Platform® technology to create new deuterium-modified small molecule compounds targeting cancer and inflammation, in a collaboration that could net the latter more than $300 million.

In return for using the DCE technology, Celgene agreed to give Concert an up-front payment. And if Celgene exercises its options and agrees to develop DCE-based drugs, Concert will be eligible for more than $300 million in payments tied to development, regulatory, and sales milestones for each program selected for development by Celgene. In addition, Concert will receive tiered royalties on any product sales for each of the programs advanced by Celgene.

Founded in 2006, Concert seeks to apply its DCE technology to approved drugs and other agents with known human pharmacological activity, with the goal of creating new medicines that the company says have potential for enhanced efficacy, better tolerability and improved safety. Deuterium is an isotope of hydrogen with twice its atomic mass, allowing for stronger bonding with carbon, yet according to the company it has yet to be systematically studied for its safety and efficacy in medicines.

“Celgene’s deep experience developing clinically meaningful therapies, and their global commitment to patients across multiple therapeutic areas, make them an ideal partner,” Roger Tung, Ph.D., Concert’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “We look forward to working with Celgene to evaluate the potential benefits of deuterium-modification for a number of programs emerging in our pipeline.”

Concert’s pipeline includes compounds for a variety of disorders. Furthest along is CTP-499, a diabetic kidney disease drug candidate now in Phase II development.

Next furthest along in the pipeline is AVP-786, a Phase I neurologic disorders drug candidate being developed with Avanir Pharmaceuticals under an undisclosed but reportedly $200 million-plus collaboration announced last year. Also in Concert’s pipeline are CTP-354 for spasticity and neuropathic pain; C-10068 for epilepsy and depression; D-Ivacaftor for cystic fibrosis and COPD; and D-Praziquantel, now in a research phase for schistosomiasis.

The collaborations with Avanir and now Celgene mark two of three partnerships Concert has entered into in the past 15 months. The other collaboration, announced February 26, combines Concert with Jazz Pharmaceuticals in the development of narcolepsy drug C-10323, now in a preclinical phase, also for an undisclosed sum but including what several news accounts reported as $120 million in milestone and royalty payments. 

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