Reata scores $450M in quick cash from Abbott pact

Irving, TX-based Reata Pharmaceuticals snared a treasure trove of $450 million in upfront and near-term cash from Abbott Labs in exchange for the ex-U.S. licensing rights to the mid-stage chronic kidney disease drug bardoxolone. The pact, which also excludes certain Asian markets, gives Abbott an equity stake in Reata along with licensing rights to other compounds in the Reata pipeline. And Reata stands to gain additional unspecified milestones plus royalties on any approved product.

It's a transformational deal for the Texas biotech. Reata was inspired by the scientific work undertaken by Mike Sporn at Dartmouth Medical School and originally set out to study the effect of bardoxolone on cancer. But in one cancer study researchers saw a big improvement in renal function among all renal cancer subjects. Arrested progression of chronic kidney disease or recovered kidney function was a provocative finding, CEO Huff told FierceBiotech earlier this year. So Reata mounted two Phase IIa trials for CKD in 2008. Those studies wrapped last year.

"This partnership allows us to meet our strategic goal of establishing our own commercial presence in the U.S. and building a sustainable, fully integrated pharmaceutical company," said Huff in a statement today.

"Early clinical studies suggest that bardoxolone could be a significant improvement to the current standard of care for CKD and possibly prevent patients from progressing to the later stages of the disease and dialysis," said John Leonard, senior vice president, pharmaceuticals, research and development, Abbott. "This agreement builds on Abbott's existing experience in renal care, while adding a promising compound to our later-stage pipeline."

- here's the Abbott/Reata release