Drug developer C4X Discovery has signed an exclusive licensing agreement worth up to $402m (£334m) with pharma giant AstraZeneca to develop oral therapy to treat inflammatory diseases.
London-listed C4XD’s shares have rocketed this morning, up nearly 40 per cent to 28.5p so far.
As part of the deal, C4XD will receive pre-clinical milestone payments worth up to $16m (£13.3) ahead of the first clinical trial, including $2m upfront – and the rest after commercialising a product.
“We are committed to transforming care in respiratory and immune-mediated disease and move beyond symptom control,” Sir Mene Pangalos, executive vice president of biopharmaceuticals research and development (R&D) at AstraZeneca, said.
“Our alliance with C4XD adds an important new asset to our portfolio to push the boundaries of science by targeting underlying disease drivers to potentially modify the course of these diseases.”
Inflammation is a key driver in many pathological conditions including respiratory diseases.
Lead molecules from C4XD’s oral NRF2 Activator programme were found to significantly activate NRF2 following oral dosing, which offered anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
C4XD CEO Dr Clive Dix added: “I know that in AstraZeneca’s hands, with their scientific, technical and commercial expertise, our NRF2 Activator programme has the potential to deliver life changing treatments for the millions of patients suffering with COPD across the world.”
C4XD inked a similar deal with French drugmaker Sanofi in April last year.
C4X had discovered a small molecule IL-17A inhibitor that targets the IL-17 family of cytokines, or inflammatory proteins, implicated in autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis.
Sanofi has been using the molecules to develop oral therapy able to replace current monoclonal antibody injections in the multi-billion-dollar market.