Pfizer invested a further $5 million into ion-channel partnership and retains commercialization rights.

Pfizer will plow another $5 million or so into its existing sodium ion-channel drug collaboration with Icagen, as a result of the firms’ decision to extend their ongoing partnership through to December 2011. Pfizer and Icagen have been working for three years on a program to discover, develop, and commercialize compounds targeting three specific sodium ion channels for the treatment of pain and related disorders. In July the collaboration reached a first-in-man milestone on the initiation of a clinical study in healthy volunteers with several jointly developed compounds in order to select compounds that should be further developed.

Extension of the agreement will see Pfizer continue to fund all aspects of the work, including research at both companies and all clinical development costs. In return it retains exclusive worldwide rights to commercialize any resulting products. Icagen could receive up to $359 million in research, development, regulatory, and commercialization milestones for each product, in addition to royalties on future sales.

The firms’ announcement comes just 10 days after Icagen confirmed halting the further enrollment of patients into a proof-of-concept photosensitivity study with candidate ICA-105665 in patients with photosensitive epilepsy due to a serious adverse event in the higher dose patient cohort.

Icagen is focused on the development of small molecule drugs that modulate ion-channel targets. In addition to its pain collaboration with Pfizer and in-house epilepsy program, it has identified potential immune system cell ion-channel targets for inflammatory diseases, and compounds that modulate these targets. The firm says studies in animal models of inflammatory diseases have shown promise, and in vitro studies suggest the compounds lead to decreases in calcium entry into immune system cells, immune system cell proliferation, and immune system cell migration into tissues.

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