Ipsen has obtained an option to acquire Canbex Therapeutics for €6 million ($6.8 million) upfront at the completion of a Phase IIA study of Canbex’ lead compound.

That compound, the oral small molecule VSN16R, is being assessed for the treatment of spasticity in people with multiple sclerosis (MS).

If Ipsen exercises its option to acquire Canbex at the end of the proof-of-concept Phase IIA study, Canbex’s shareholders will be eligible to receive up to an additional €90 million ($103 million) consisting of an acquisition payment, and additional milestone payments tied to launch subsequent to achievement of clinical and regulatory success.

In addition, Canbex shareholders will be eligible to receive royalties on worldwide annual net sales of VSN16R.

Marc de Garidel, Ipsen’s chairman and CEO, said VSN16R “could be a valuable companion product to Dysport® in the treatment of spasticity.”

Dysport is Ipsen’s botulimum toxin Type A, which carries a variety of neurology and aesthetic indications. In addition to spasticity, the indications include cervical dystonia, hemifacial spasm, and blepharospasm.

VSN16R is also marketed for aesthetic indications—namely the correction of frown lines (glabellar lines) caused by repeated frown movements—in the U.S. by Medicis, and in Europe by Galderma under the Azzalure® brand.

A spinout company of University College London, Canbex was founded by a scientific team that included professors David Baker, Ph.D., and David Selwood, Ph.D., later joined by Gavin Giovannoni, M.B.B.Ch., Ph.D., a practicing MS clinician who also specializes in MS drug development and clinical research.

Canbex raised a Series A financing of $3.2 million in 2013 from MS Ventures (the corporate venture arm of Merck KGaA), the Wellcome Trust and UCL Business.

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