Italian firm Alfa Wassermann and Theravance penned a co-development and licensing option deal for the latter’s clinical-stage 5-HT4 antagonist velusetrag (TD-5108), which is in development for treating gastrointestinal motility disorders. Under the agreement the firms will collaborate on a two-part Phase II program in patients with gastroparesis, which Alfa Wassermann will fund.

Dependent on the trial results Alfa Wasserman will then have the right to exercise an exclusive option to further develop and commercialize velusetrag in the EU, Russia, China, Mexico, and certain other countries, in return for a $10 million option fee. Theravance retains full rights to the drug in the U.S., Canada, Japan, and other specified territories, and could earn another $53.5 million in potential development, regulatory, and sales milestones.

“Gastroparesis represents one of the most significant unmet medical needs in gastroenterology, and we look forward to moving quickly with Alfa Wassermann to bring this potential medicine to patients who have limited alternatives today,” comments Rick E. Winningham, Theravance chairman and CEO.

Discovered by Theravance, Velusetrag is an orally available selective 5-HT4 receptor antagonist, which has already completed a 400-patient Phase II study in chronic idiopathic constipation. The firm’s pipeline includes a second gastrointestinal motility candidate TD-8954, which has completed preclinical development. 

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