Proteostasis lands $50M neurodegenerative disease pact with Elan

Intrigued by the broad potential of Proteostasis Therapeutics' development platform to create new drugs to treat a broad range of neurodegenerative disorders, Ireland's Elan has stepped up with a $50 million deal to buy a stake in the biotech as well as fund new R&D work.

The Cambridge, MA-based Proteostasis was formed back in 2007 and announced a $45 million venture round a year later, with an A-list of venture groups joining hands to back its work on Parkinson's, Huntington's, multiple sclerosis, ALS and Alzheimer's. Now the developer has struck its first deal, gaining $20 million from Elan in equity and the promise of up to $30 million more over five years as they collaborate on new drug programs. In exchange Elan gets a 24 percent stake in Proteostasis as well as a right of first negotiation to license compounds emerging from the deal. Elan also gets a seat on the Proteostasis board of directors as well as its scientific advisory board.

"Through an emphasis on protein folding and turnover, the Proteostasis business relationship is both complementary and additive to our internal research effort which is focused on genetic targets associated with a broad array of neurodegenerative disorders," a group of Elan execs noted in a joint statement. "This initiative enables us to simultaneously expand possible targets and accelerate our progress in bringing science to patients, as we believe that this area is central for further scientific and clinical advancements."   

News of this deal follows closely on the announced sale of Elan's drug tech unit, Elan Drug Technologies, to Alkermes, which gives Elan more cash to strike new deals. The deal is also good news for Poteostasis's backers: HealthCare Ventures, Fidelity Biosciences, New Enterprise Associates, Novartis Option Fund and Genzyme Ventures.

- read the Elan release