Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma taps Synageva for orphan disease R&D

Rare disease know-how remains a hot commodity. Aiming to gain access to orphan disease and protein drug-making expertise, Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma has struck an R&D deal with Synageva BioPharma. Lexington, MA-based Synageva, a rare disease drug developer, will pocket $3 million upfront in addition to unspecified research dollars from the Japanese drugmaker.

Using Synageva's tech for expressing therapeutic proteins, the collaborators plan to focus their research on a novel drug for treating an undisclosed orphan disease, according to a statement. The target apparently won't be one Synageva is pursuing in its own pipeline, which includes its lead enzyme replacement therapy SBC-102 for LAL Deficiency.

"This agreement illustrates Synageva's strategy to help fund our internal product development by selectively forming partnerships to create therapeutics for rare diseases not targeted by our pipeline products," Sanj Patel, Synageva's president and chief executive, said. "We look forward to a productive partnership with Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma that should result in a new treatment for a devastating condition."

This deal comes in the midst of a proposed merger revealed in June with Durham, NC-based developer Trimeris ($TRMS) that would give Synageva management control of the combined entity and a public stock listing.

- here's the release