Servier licenses Galapagos' phase 1 osteoarthritis drug 

Servier has licensed an osteoarthritis drug from Galapagos. The French drugmaker opted in to the program and handed over another slice of the €290 million ($339 million) in milestones tied to it after getting a look at phase 1 data.

Galapagos granted Servier the option to license small molecules derived from its work on novel osteoarthritis targets in 2010. Since then, Galapagos has taken lead osteoarthritis asset GLPG1972 through phase 1, triggering the opt-in decision by Servier. The positive decision sees the ex-U.S. rights to the ADAMTS-5 inhibitor transfer to Servier in return for a €6 million license fee.

Servier could end up paying €290 million if the heavily-backloaded deal hits all its milestones. The next steps toward those milestones include the completion of a 30-patient phase 1b dose escalation study and the start of a phase 2 program. Servier and Galapagos will both have a say in decisions about these trials through a joint steering committee.

“We strongly believe that the combination of our knowledge of osteoarthritis with Galapagos' recognized expertise in discovery of small molecules with novel modes of potentially increases chances to deliver life-changing treatments to patients,” Patricia Belissa-Mathiot, director of immune-inflammatory R&D at Servier, said in a statement.

Galapagos has advanced the drug to this point on the strength of preclinical evidence GLPG1972 is a disease-modifying treatment for osteoarthritis and data in healthy volunteers on its safety and pharmacokinetics. The drug cut structural cartilage damage in mice, bolstering Galapagos’ belief it can improve outcomes in osteoarthritis by hitting a target linked to aggrecan degradation.

GLPG1972 is part of a clutch of Galapagos’ programs now moving toward clinical proof of concept. Galapagos is chasing Vertex in cystic fibrosis while also pushing treatments for atopic dermatitis and Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis toward mid-phase data. This work is happening parallel to the broad filgotinib clinical development program Galapagos is running with Gilead.