Regulus wins $150M hep C pact with Glaxo

In a big endorsement of Regulus Therapeutics, GlaxoSmithKline says it will follow up their two-year-old, $600 million pact aimed at finding new drugs for inflammatory diseases with a new, $150 million collaboration targeting microRNA-122 for hepatitis C. Regulus earned an unspecified upfront payment in the deal, but CEO Kleanthis G. Xanthopoulos tells FierceBiotech this morning that the pact positions the company for swift growth as it closes in on at least one more such collaboration this year.

The milestones in the Glaxo deal are "frequent and consistent," says Xanthopoulos. "In the next 12 to 18 months we expect to earn more than $10 million in addition to the upfront." The hepatitis C program should be ready to enter the clinic next year, says the CEO, and will be "synergistic" with other therapies now being studied for the condition.

The new Glaxo deal leaves the company with "at least" enough money to finance the company for three years, Xanthopoulos adds. But the CEO also tells FierceBiotech that he's bullish that at least one or two more significant development pacts can be struck this year. By the end of this year, he adds, Regulus will grow from its current payroll of 40 workers to 50, and he expects to add more scientific know-how to the staff as it continues to accelerate development next year.

Regulus, which spun out of Alnylam and Isis, believes its microRNA approach will work well against complex, tough-to-treat diseases, targeting multiple genes with a single therapy. The company was a 2008 Fierce 15 winner.

- here's Regulus' release