Company nominated a small molecule that inhibits the CCR1 chemokine receptor for development against rheumatoid arthritis.

ChemoCentryx earned a $5-million milestone payment from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) with the acceptance of its orally bioavailable small molecule, CCX354, as a candidate for full development. CCX354 selectively inhibits the CCR1 chemokine receptor, a validated target for the treatment of certain autoimmune diseases and inflammatory diseases.

“We believe CCX354 may be well suited for the treatment of RA (rheumatoid arthritis), given that inflammatory cells expressing the CCR1 chemokine receptor are abundant in inflamed joints of patients with arthritis,” notes Thomas J. Schall, Ph.D., president and CEO of ChemoCentryx. “Also, unlike existing injectable or infusible treatments for RA, CCX354 is designed as an oral medicine that is highly potent and selective for the CCR1 target. This approach provides advantages such as the potential to treat the devastating effects of RA without the safety consequences sometimes seen by globally suppressing the immune system, as happens with such current therapies as the anti-TNF biologics available today.

ChemoCentryx and GSK’s Center of Excellence for External Drug Discovery formed a partnership in August 2006. The transaction involves the discovery, development, and commercialization of novel medicines targeting four defined chemokine and chemoattractant receptors for the treatment of inflammatory disorders. ChemoCentryx is responsible for discovery and development of up to six small molecule drug candidates across the targets through clinical proof-of-concept. GSK then has the exclusive option to license each product for further development and commercialization on a worldwide basis.

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