Biogen pays $80M to buddy up on PhIII ALS program

Biogen Idec is buddying up to Knopp Neurosciences with $80 million in cash and up to $245 million more in various milestones for marketing rights to a promising, late-stage ALS drug. Biogen will invest $60 million in the Pittsburgh, PA-based developer while providing another $20 million as an upfront for the company.

The object of Biogen's desire is KNS-760704, an experimental therapy for Lou Gehrig's disease which hit its primary endpoint in a Phase II clinical trial. Knopp says that the therapy demonstrated "favorable dose-related effects in preserving motor function and extending survival." And Biogen will help push the therapy into a Phase III trial slated to begin in early 2011.

Biogen will step into the lead development role for Phase III, setting the stage for regulatory approvals and commercialization efforts if its investigators reap the kind of positive data they're hoping for. Knopp will retain a "certain" commercialization role in the U.S., which wasn't outlined in their joint release. The therapy has received an orphan drug designation in the U.S. and Europe and is on the FDA's fast track.

- here's the Biogen release