Cytokinetics and Astellas Pharma expanded a partnership inked in 2013 focused on skeletal muscle activators to include amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). As part of the deal, Cytokinetics granted Astellas an option for the development and commercialization of tirasemtiv. The companies also agreed to amend their agreement to enable the development of CK-2127107 for the potential treatment of ALS and to extend their joint research focused on the discovery of additional skeletal muscle activators through 2017.

In 2014 tirasemtiv failed to meet its primary efficacy endpoint in a Phase IIb trial assessing the compound’s effects on people with ALS, but Cytokinetics soldiered on with development buoyed by the drug’s effect on slowing the decline to respiratory failure.

And Astellas must be encouraged by this result as well because it has committed to pay Cytokinetics $65 million, which includes upfront payments for Astellas’ option for tirasemtiv and amended terms of the companies’ existing agreement to include ALS for CK-2127107. 

 If Astellas exercises its option, the parties will enter into a global partnership in which Cytokinetics will continue to develop and commercialize tirasemtiv in North America, Europe, and other select countries, and Astellas will develop and commercialize tirasemtiv in other countries. Cytokinetics may receive over $100 million in payments associated with the exercise of the option.

Cytokinetics and Astellas also agreed on a development plan for CK-2127107 in ALS. Cytokinetics will receive approximately $30 million through 2017 which includes Astellas’ sponsorship of Cytokinetics’ Phase II development of CK-2127107 in ALS as well as the continuing research collaboration. CK-2127107 is also being evaluated for spinal muscular atrophy.

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