Bayer, Haplogen ink R&D deal for pulmonary diseases

Lungs illustration (Image: Pixabay)
The partners hope to develop new drugs that reduce COPD flare-ups by fighting the viral infections that cause them. (Pixabay)

Bayer and Evotec partner Haplogen will work to identify new treatments for pulmonary diseases including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) under a multiyear drug discovery and development collaboration. 

The deal builds on a stable of pulmonary therapeutic programs developed by Haplogen and Evotec since the pair teamed up in 2012. At the time, the pair said they would work on small molecules against viral infectious diseases. Specifically, they would develop drugs targeting an unnamed human protein, discovered by Haplogen, that is essential for pathogenic viruses to infect host cells. 

COPD, a progressive respiratory disease, has no cure and treatments focus on easing symptoms and slowing progression. It is usually caused by long-term exposure to lung irritants, but rarely can be the result of a genetic condition called alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. Viral infections of the respiratory system are a major cause of COPD exacerbations, with upper respiratory tract infections linked to more than 50% of exacerbations. 

With the new deal, the trio hopes to create new antiviral compounds that counter these infections and reduce COPD exacerbations, or flare-ups. 

“One possible treatment approach for COPD exacerbations is to disrupt the multiplication of the responsible virus by inhibiting its replication,” Evotec said in a statement. 

Bayer picks up an exclusive license to the worldwide rights to programs developed under the collaboration, while Evotec will hand over an undisclosed upfront fee, as well as potential milestone and royalty-based payments from Haplogen. The companies did not disclose other financial terms. 

“Our alliance with Haplogen has proven that both companies and teams are united by the same spirit and objectives under a very efficient “virtual” performance-based biotech business model. With the addition of Bayer’s excellent expertise, we have high aspirations for this partnership and look forward to bringing new and better treatments to patients living with pulmonary diseases,” said Evotec CEO Werner Lanthaler.