Angelini, JCR work to pierce blood-brain barrier in epilepsy deal worth up to $505M biobucks

In its bid to develop epilepsy treatments that can overcome the notoriously tricky blood-brain barrier, Angelini Pharma has pledged to pay JCR Pharmaceuticals over $500 million in biobucks.

Angelini, an international pharma owned by Angelini Industries, handed over an undisclosed upfront fee to use JCR’s tech. Dubbed J-Brain Cargo, the tech aims to penetrate the blood-brain barrier, which typically prevents or slows the passage of drugs, to deliver biotherapeutics into the central nervous system.

Under the terms of the agreement, Japan-based JCR and Angelini will collaborate on discovery and pre-clinical work to identify brain-penetrant biologic therapeutics using J-Brain Cargo. Angelini will then have the option to move candidates into clinical development and subsequent global commercialization outside of Japan, where JCR will retain commercialization rights. In return, JCR could receive up to $505.5 million in milestone payments, on top of royalties.

“Epilepsy is one of the most prevalent chronic neurological diseases,” Angelini Pharma CEO Jacopo Andreose said in a May 11 release. “Through this strategic collaboration with JCR, a company with a wealth of biotechnological expertise, we will combine our respective strengths to explore the use of biologics in this area and accelerate critically needed treatment options for people living with epilepsy.”

JCR is working to provide treatments for people with genetic and rare conditions, such as lysosomal disease and renal anemia. In 2021, the company signed a deal with Takeda for its Japan-approved Hunter syndrome treatment Izcargo. Should a global late-stage trial readout in 2024 be successful, the Japanese Big Pharma will handle commercialization of the drug in Canada, Europe and other countries outside of the U.S. and Japan.