Israeli firm RedHill Biopharma entered into an option agreement with German company RESprotect to acquire the latter's cancer candidate RP101 and next-generation compounds. RP101, RedHill says, is a heat shock protein 27 (Hsp27) inhibitor, which could help kill tumors by preventing the induction of chemotherapy resistance (or chemoresistance) and has also been given Orphan Drug designation for the adjunct treatment of pancreatic cancer by both the FDA and EMA.

Per the agreement, RedHill now has the option to acquire the worldwide exclusive rights to RP101 for all indications except the pancreatic cancer indication in South Korea. RedHill will pay RESprotect for a one-year option, which RedHill could extend under certain agreed-upon terms. During the option period, RedHill may conduct development activities with RP101.

Should RedHill choose to exercise the option, it will pick up exclusive rights to RP101 for a total of $100,000 for both the option and the acquisition of the rights, as well as potential milestone payments and tiered royalties on net revenues that, according to RedHill, could range from single-digit to mid-teens.

RedHill's CEO Dror Ben-Asher said in a statement that acquiring this option is part of the firm's increased strategic focus toward clinical-stage, orally administered treatments for patients suffering from gastrointestinal and inflammatory diseases including pancreatic cancer. He added that RP101 has so far performed well in clinical studies and that a scientific advice meeting with Germany’s Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (Bundesinstitut für Arzneimittel und Medizinprodukte, or BfArM) provided “a possible pathway forward” for developing RP101. 

“There are many government and other research and development grants available for gastrointestinal cancers and specifically for pancreatic cancer which we could potentially pursue, and there is also potential for regulatory designation of RP101 as an expedited program for a serious condition and unmet medical need,” Ben-Asher said. 

Back in June, RedHill picked up another Phase II cancer candidate, Mesupron®, from Wilex in a $1 million-plus deal. Mesupron is an orally administered oncology drug targeting gastrointestinal and other solid tumor cancers.

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