After selling off a discarded Alzheimer's disease drug last month, Lundbeck is bulking up its neurological R&D through a $10 million pact with the relatively unknown small biotech Rgenta Therapeutics.
The brain disease-focused pharma will pay Rgenta $10 million upfront and in near-term payments plus up to $100 million in biobucks later on. The deal focuses on small molecules that target RNA regulation for neurological disorders, which is Lundbeck's core focus.
Rgenta will use its discovery engine to find RNA-targeting small molecules. Lundbeck has secured the option to exclusively license the candidate molecules, which the pharma will develop and commercialize. There's also potential for the partnership to expand into other brain disease targets, Rgenta said.
Lundbeck's deal comes a month after the pharma sold its thrice-failed Alzheimer's drug candidate to China-based Denovo Biopharma. The company offloaded the rights to the 5-HT6 receptor agonist, which failed three phase 3 trials in 2016 and 2017, as many Big Pharmas push to revive failed or once-unheralded Alzheimer's candidates in the wake of the FDA's approval of Biogen's Aduhelm.
The deal with Rgenta could help Lundbeck bounce back from prior failures, which include a mid-stage effort on a schizophrenia drug that was canned almost a year ago to the day.
Rgenta has been building an oncology and neurology pipeline for 18 months but has no candidates on its website. Instead, the small biotech lists an mRNA target discovery platform that is supported through $38 million in seed financing.
The biotech was co-founded by CEO Simon Xi, Ph.D., and President and Chief Scientific Officer Travis Wager, Ph.D. Xi comes from AbbVie and Pfizer, and Wager previously served at Aquinnah Pharmaceuticals and also Pfizer, where he spent 14 years.