The U.K.'s AstraZeneca has signed two new licensing pacts. It is paying Palatin Technologies $10 million up front and up to $300 million in regulatory and sales milestones to develop obesity drugs. The pact covers the commercialization of small molecule compounds that target melanocortin receptors. Both companies will collaborate on the science while AstraZeneca covers the cost of research.
AstraZeneca has also inked a deal to pay Argenta $21 million up front and up to $500 million to collaborate on a therapy for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. This program is in the preclinical stage and no human trials are expected before next year. Analysts note that the deals indicate how determined AstraZeneca is to beef up its pipeline with bright new drug prospects. Argenta's CEO told AFX that he's been in talks with every respiratory company of note about a licensing deal, which is another indication of Big Pharma's hot pursuit of new development programs.
"This agreement supports our commitment to discovering and developing innovative medicines in the diabetes and obesity areas," says Jan Lundberg, AstraZeneca's executive vice president of discovery, about the Palatin deal. "Obesity and its related indications are an area of strategic importance and this novel approach afforded by targeting melanocortin receptors has the potential to become one of the leading treatment modalities of obesity. The deal is an example of us accessing the best science outside AstraZeneca and also fits with our recent decision to re-focus disease research with diabetes/obesity now one of the priority areas."