Exelixis will receive $15 million up front, and focus is on S1P1 receptor agonists.

Exelixis is initially receiving $15 million from Boehringer Ingelheim under a newly inked deal focused on an autoimmune disease target. Exelixis could earn up to $339 million dependent on achieving development, regulatory, and commercial goals.

The exclusive, worldwide collaboration aims to discover, develop, and commercialize agonists of sphingosine-1-phosphate type 1 receptor (S1P1). This receptor is a central mediator of multiple pathways implicated in a variety of autoimmune diseases, according to the companies.

Exelixis and Boehringer Ingelheim will share responsibility for discovery activities. Boehringer Ingelheim will then take over preclinical, clinical, regulatory, commercial, and manufacturing activities. Exelixis is entitled to royalties on sales of all products.

“Our S1P1 agonist program has identified multiple analogs with potent in vivo activity,” says George A. Scangos, Ph.D., president and CEO of Exelixis. “With this collaboration, we have the opportunity to transition the program to a partner with a track record of success in developing and commercializing autoimmune disease therapies while strengthening our financial position.”

S1P1 is one of five known GPCRs that are activated by the phospholipid Sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P). S1P1 agonists reportedly cause a reduction in circulating lymphocytes by disrupting the normal migration of lymphocytes from the lymphoid organs into the blood. These compounds have shown encouraging activity in preclinical models of transplant rejection and autoimmune disease as well as clinical benefit in ongoing trials in multiple sclerosis patients, according to the firms.

Selective targeting of S1P1 is expected to avoid some of the cardiovascular side effects that are evident with S1P1 agonists in advanced clinical trials that interact with multiple members of the S1P receptor family.

Past News from Exelixis

Bristol-Myers Squibb Exercises Option to Develop Another Exelixis Drug Candidate (Nov. 24, 2008)
Bristol-Myers Squibb Extends Research Collaboration with Exelixis (Nov. 6, 2008)
GSK Ends Alliance with Exelixis with Decision Not to Select Another Compound (Oct. 23, 2008)
Exelixis Secures $150M Commitment (June 5, 2008)
Genentech’s Option to Pursue Exelixis’ Oncology Candidate Triggers $3M Fee (Mar. 14, 2008)

Past News from Boehringer Ingelheim

Cenix to Conduct RNAi-Based Target Discovery for Boehringer Ingelheim (Feb. 2, 2009)
Boehringer Ingelheim to Acquire Actimis Pharmaceuticals for $515M (June 17, 2008)
Rentschler and Boehringer Ingelheim Offer Combined Production Services (May 21, 2008)
Boehringer Ingelheim and Vitae Partner on Compounds to Treat Metabolic Diseases (Oct. 15, 2007)
Ablynx and Boehringer Ingelheim Sign EUR 200M Nanobody Alliance (Sep. 7, 2007)

Previous articleVernalis and Servier Sign Second Cancer Drug Discovery Agreement
Next articleRegenerative Sciences Grants NeoStem Exclusive Asia License to Regenexx