Shire will use the human-derived Homing Peptide platform of Arrowhead Research to develop and commercialize targeted peptide-drug conjugates (PDCs).

In return, Arrowhead said today, it will receive undisclosed research funding and could receive up to $32.8 million in development, regulatory, and commercialization milestone payments for each PDC candidate developed, plus additional milestone payments for a second indication, and royalties on worldwide sales. Additional financial terms of the companies’ research collaboration and license agreement were not disclosed.

“With this novel platform technology, Shire has the potential to move into a wider range of orphan diseases,” said Philip J. Vickers, Ph.D., head of R&D at Shire Human Genetic Therapies.

The collaboration is the latest in a number of moves by which Shire is seeking to expand its orphan disease portfolio. On Oct. 24, Shire announced a rare-disease research collaboration with Italian biomedical charitable foundation Fondazione Telethon to study at Telethon Institute of Genetics and Medicine 13 undisclosed rare disease indications with potential to add multiple novel therapeutic candidates to Shire’s early-stage pipeline. Shire will provide $22 million over five years for the research projects, designed to address lysosomal storage disorders and neurodegenerative diseases.

In Shire’s latest collaboration, Arrowhead will identify peptides that selectively bind and internalize in an undisclosed tissue type, and that can deliver to that tissue a therapeutic payload. The company will receive funding for its internal and external research program-related costs from Shire, which will have an option to obtain an exclusive license to develop and commercialize a therapeutic agent targeted by the designated peptides. Shire will oversee clinical development and commercialization of products arising from the collaboration.

Arrowhead has development programs in oncology, obesity, and chronic hepatitis B virus. The company’s Homing Peptides comprise what the company says is the world’s largest library of human-derived peptide sequences shown to localize to specific tissues in the human body. The platform is designed to enable creation of guided therapeutics that specifically target tissues of interest while sparing off-target tissues.

Christopher Anzalone, Ph.D., Arrowhead’s president and CEO, said the company’s library of more than 42,000 unique targeting peptide sequences can potentially be used to deliver therapeutics to more than 30 tissue types, while avoiding nonspecific uptake.

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