Ipsen said today it will buy drug developer Syntaxin in a deal that could reach more than €158 million ($206 million), three years after the French specialty pharma giant began collaborating with the U.K.-based developer of recombinant botulism toxins.

Ipsen said it agreed to pay €28 million ($36.5 million) up-front, and up to €130 million ($169.6 million) or more tied to development and commercial milestones for Syntaxin, whose lead product is in Phase II clinical trials and being co-developed with Allergan. Syntaxin shareholders would receive most of any additional downstream payments related to the lead product, Serenbotase (AGN 214868), for the treatment of both post-herpetic neuralgia and idiopathic overactive bladder and urinary incontinence.

The companies said the deal will enable Ipsen to use Syntaxin’s know-how in the design, expression, and purification of recombinant botulinum toxins—reflected by a portfolio of 75 granted patents and more than 130 patents pending—while deploying the acquired company’s Targeted Secretion Inhibitors platform across Ipsen’s therapeutic areas of neurology, endocrinology, and uro-oncology. Ipsen also said the deal aligns with its strategy of reinforcing core technological platforms, peptides, and toxins.

“This is an important step in our ambition to become a global leader in targeted debilitating diseases. The acquisition of Syntaxin is a considerable addition to our neurology franchise and is fully aligned with our strategy of focus,” Marc de Garidel, Ipsen’s chairman and CEO, said in a statement.

Separately yet simultaneously, Ipsen announced a sponsored R&D collaboration with Harvard Medical School focused on discovering, evaluating, and developing new engineered recombinant botulinum toxins for treating serious neurologic diseases. Under their agreement, Ipsen will fund Harvard research for at least three years.

Publicly traded Ipsen quietly began collaborating with Syntaxin in 2010. A year later, the companies announced a global strategic partnership designed to explore the discovery and development of new compounds in recombinant botulinum toxins. Syntaxin’s team has focused on discovery of new therapeutic candidates, and Ipsen, on pharmacological, preclinical, and clinical assessment of those compounds.

At the time, Ipsen agreed to pay an undisclosed technology access fee, offer full-time employee support, and shell out $9 million payments tied to research milestones in the first three years of the collaboration. Syntaxin was also eligible for additional license fees, development and regulatory milestones, and potentially more than $90 million in commercial milestone payments, plus royalties on net sales. In return, Ipsen received exclusive worldwide development and commercialization rights to discoveries within the collaboration.

Syntaxin’s CEO, Melanie Lee, Ph.D., C.B.E., F.Med.Sci., D.Sc. will leave the company, as will other members of her executive team, which includes CBO Nigel Clark, Ph.D., CFO Phil Boyd, Ph.D., and CDO Jon Court, Ph.D. However, Syntaxin’s co-founders, CSO Keith Foster, Ph.D., and John Chaddock, Ph.D., chief technology and operations officer, will join Ipsen to help build its toxin platform.

The companies said Syntaxin’s research laboratories in Abingdon, U.K., will remain as a center of excellence for botulinum toxin engineering within the combined company, while joining Ipsen’s R&D sites at Wrexham, U.K., and Les Ulis, France.

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