Tiny Californian biotech Altos Therapeutics has won the backing of Japanese Big Pharma Takeda to help it move forward with its one and only candidate--with a sweetened buyout deal also on the cards.
Takeda will initially help with funds and expertise to complete the early-stage study for ATC-1906, which in the future will be tested for certain aspects of gastroparesis (GP)--a chronic condition in which the stomach cannot empty itself in the normal way.
Currently, privately-owned Altos is developing the candidate--an oral dopamine D2/D3 receptor antagonist--as a treatment to address the symptoms of nausea and vomiting in GP patients.
But the deal goes deeper, as Takeda holds an option to buy out little Altos at the end of Phase I testing--at which point it would take over complete control of ATC-1906’s development future.
Exact financial details were not provided, but the Japanese company said it will give Altos an upfront payment for its option to acquire the biotech, which if it does so, will also see it make an additional payment.
Meanwhile, under the deal, Altos is eligible to receive other payments linked to clinical development and achievement of key commercial milestones. But that’s all she wrote when it comes to the money side of things.
“There is a significant unmet need for a treatment to help patients with gastroparesis, and developing novel and innovative treatments for patients suffering from gastrointestinal disorders is a top priority for Takeda’s global R&D strategy,” said Dr. Asit Parikh, SVP and head of Takeda’s gastroenterology therapeutic area unit.
“This agreement reinforces Takeda’s commitment to developing highly differentiated medicines to improve the health and quality of life of patients around the world.”
The deal dovetails nicely with Takeda’s gastro portfolio, which includes its recently launched Entyvio (vedolizumab) for ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, which is set for $2 billion in sales at peak.
Dr. Roger Whiting, CEO of Altos, added: “Altos’ main goal has been to develop ATC-1906 for the treatment of gastroparesis. We are delighted to have Takeda, with its expertise in gastroenterology, involved as Altos continues to develop ATC-1906 through Phase 1 clinical trials. We believe that this agreement will expedite the development of this important medicine.”
Current treatments for the disorder including certain antibiotics that help contract the stomach, as well as Janssen’s ($JNJ) Motilium (domperidone), which like Altos’ candidate is also a selective antagonist of the dopamine D2 and D3 receptors. Anti-emetics are also commonly prescribed for the condition.
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