Successful development and approval of BACE inhibitors could bring Vitae $200 million in milestones.

Vitae Pharmaceuticals and Boehringer Ingelheim signed an agreement to develop beta-secretase (BACE) inhibitors against Alzheimer’s disease. As part of the deal Vitae will receive up-front and near-term payments from BI of $42 million in the form of cash, research funding, and equity investment. Vitae could earn up to $200 million in additional clinical and regulatory milestones, which include goals met in other indications.

Vitae and Boehringer Ingelheim will work together to identify and progress candidates for clinical development. Boehringer Ingelheim will be responsible for development and commercialization of promising candidates against Alzheimer’s disease, with Vitae retaining the right to develop any resulting products for other indications.

Vitae CEO, Jeffrey Hatfield, says the deal will extend a successful partnership model with Boehringer Ingelheim, which stems from the companies’ existing collaboration, signed in October 2007, to develop 11beta-HSD1 inhibitors as potential treatments for diabetes and metabolic syndrome related diseases. “It adds substantial neuroscience expertise and specialized resources to the BACE program, which has advanced remarkably during its 16-month life.”
BACE1 is a key rate-limiting enzyme in the proteolytic process leading to the formation of amyloid-beta peptide from amyloid precursor protein. BACE1 inhibitors are expected to prevent the build-up of beta-amyloid plaques and help slow or even stop progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Vitae suggests the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease will double over the next 20 years. Global sales of Alzheimer’s disease drugs, which reached $5 billion in 2008, are projected to exceed $14 billion by 2015, the company estimates.

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