PharmAkea said today its 3-year-old collaboration with Celgene to develop novel small-molecule therapies targeting fibrotic diseases has been extended 9 months.

Celgene has committed $9 million toward extending the collaboration, which applies PharmAkea’s proprietary drug discovery platform.

“We have been very impressed with the progress the team at PharmAkea has made over the past 3 years,” Rupert Vessey, president of research and early development at Celgene, said in a statement. “This extension allows the company to further realize the potential of their programs and to complete some key activities.”

PharmAkea is conducting a Phase I SAD and MAD trial, as well as toxicology studies designed to enable Phase II trials on its lead program, a small-molecule lysyl oxidase homolog 2 (LOXL2) inhibitor.

PharmAkea also said it is conducting IND-enabling studies in preparation for a Phase I trial on its second program, an autotaxin inhibitor.

“This extension is a validation and endorsement of our work to date.  We look forward to continuing our work with Celgene,” added PharmAkea CEO Robert Williamson.

The collaboration was launched in October of 2013 after Celgene committed $35 million over 3 years to PharmAkea, a San Diego biotech focused on developing small-molecule therapies against cancer and fibrotic diseases. Celgene also took an equity stake in PharmAkea and retained an exclusive option to acquire the company. At the same time, Bay City Capital invested $10 million in a Series A equity financing in PharmAkea.

PharmAkea was founded in 2012 with seed funding from Celgene that was used to secure the initial scientific team, launch operations, and begin identification of clinical candidates against selected targets.

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