Swedish firm Orexo received a $2.5 million milestone payment from AstraZeneca, relating to the latter’s initiation of Phase I clinical development with the leukotriene (LT) C4 synthase inhibitor program OX-CLI (AZD9898). The respiratory diseases program, which AstraZeneca acquired from Orexo last year, is in development for the potential treatment of disorders that include asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

“Pushing the boundaries of science to transform disease management by addressing underlying disease drivers and improving asthma patient outcomes is central to AstraZeneca's respiratory strategy,” commented Marcus Schindler, vp of AstraZeneca's Respiratory, Inflammation and Autoimmunity Innovative Medicines Unit. “AZD9898 could enable us to offer a new personalized treatment for patients whose condition is driven by the dysregulation of leukotrienes.”

AstraZeneca and Orexo set up their OX-CLI collaboration in 2013; since then AstraZeneca has shouldered all related investment and R&D activities relating to the program. AstraZeneca exercised its option to acquire all rights to OX-CLI in Q1 2016, triggering a $5 million milestone payment to Orexo.

Orexo could earn further OX-CLI development and commercialization milestones and will be eligible to receive tiered, single-digit royalties on future product sales. Commenting on the latest milestone payment, Nikolaj Sørensen, president and CEO of Orexo, said, “I am very pleased with the progress in the OX-CLI project and the efforts from AstraZeneca to advance this important project. OX-CLI has the potential to improve the treatment of asthma and COPD to the benefit for many patients suffering from these chronic respiratory diseases. The progress of OX-CLI further enhances the breadth and value potential in our pipeline.”

Last month, AstraZeneca reported setting up a potentially $2.1 billion respiratory diseases collaboration with Pieris Pharmaceuticals to develop inhaled drugs based on the latter’s Anticalin® platform. The Pieris deal was announced a week before AstraZeneca confirmed that its human monoclonal antibody (mAb) candidate tralokinumab failed to meet its primary endpoint in the first of two pivotal Phase III studies in patients with severe, uncontrolled asthma.  

Earlier this year AstraZeneca teamed up with respiratory biotech firm Circassia Pharmaceuticals for U.S. development and commercialization of the inhaled COPD therapeutics Tudorza™ and Duaklir®.