Neurotez said today it gave GCA Therapeutics (GCAT) exclusive rights to develop Leptin derivatives for Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive disorders in China, in a deal that could net the licensor up to $102.5 million-plus.

Under a licensing agreement between the companies, GCAT agreed to assume all development and regulatory costs and responsibility for Leptin products in China.

In return, GCAT agreed to pay Neurotez up to $102.5 million in payments tied to gross sales milestones that include a series of minimum annual sales thresholds following first commercial sales in China. Neurotez is also eligible for royalties on gross sales.

“This license is the first of what we anticipate to be a series of agreements designed to allow our program to reach the large global market of patients with Alzheimer’s disease,” Nikolaos Tezapsidis, Neurotez’ president and CEO, said in a statement.

Headquartered in Bridgewater, NJ, Neurotez focuses on developing hormone replacement therapies for Alzheimer’s, and a preventative treatment for at-risk patients, based on recombinant human Leptin, which is often at decreased levels in patients with the disease. A version of Leptin has been approved in the U.S. for treating generalized lipodystrophy, and in Japan for lipodystrophy.

Leptin inhibits both the production of amyloid beta (Aβ) and also the phosphorylation of tau protein—two hallmarks of Alzheimer’s that have largely eluded efforts by investigators to target for new drugs.

Tezapsidis added that GCAT had a demonstrated track record of successfully developing therapeutics for China and other large Asian markets.

Headquartered in Jersey City, NJ, GCAT focuses on licensing for sale in China western technologies and drugs—especially treatments with cancer, infectious diseases, cardiovascular, immunology, and neurology indications. The company was founded by U.S.-trained Chinese professionals and industry veterans with backgrounds in both finance and pharmaceuticals.

GCAT says it can help western companies bring their products into China in a cost-effective manner through  capabilities that include preclinical, clinical, commercial, and regulatory expertise in China, as well as a bilingual staff capable of bridging cultural and language hurdles. Future plans call for GCAT to construct or acquire manufacture capabilities in China. The company has operations in Beijing and Shanghai, in addition to New Jersey and New York.

[This report has been corrected from an earlier edition to reflect that GCAT agreed to pay licensor Neurotez up to $102.5 million in sales milestone payments plus royalties.]

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