Companies will focus on pain, smoking cessation, obesity, addiction, and Parkinson’s disease.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Targacept formed an alliance worth over $1.5 billion to discover, develop, and market novel therapeutics that selectively target specified neuronal nicotinic receptors (NNRs).

GSK will make an upfront payment of $35 million to Targacept, which includes an investment of $15 million for the purchase of 1,275,502 shares. In addition, Targacept is eligible to receive up to $1.5 billion in payments from GSK, contingent on the achievement of specified discovery, development, regulatory, and commercial milestones across five therapeutic areas as well as tiered double-digit royalties dependent on sales achieved.

The partnership includes Targacept’s lead candidates for pain: TC-2696, which is currently in a Phase II trial for acute postoperative pain, and TC-6499, a preclinical product candidate that is currently planned for development for neuropathic pain. Targacept has retained an option to co-promote both products for pain in the U.S.

The deal also provides GSK with access to other discovery programs across five therapeutic areas. In addition to pain, the focus points are smoking cessation, obesity, addiction, and Parkinson’s disease.

Targacept will utilize its proprietary Pentad™ drug discovery technology to discover novel small molecule product candidates that target specified NNR subtypes and then will develop the most promising candidate for each therapeutic area through a Phase II trial. GSK will then have an exclusive option to license these compounds, assuming full responsibility for further development and commercialization on a worldwide basis.

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