Targacept schizophrenia drug meets Phase II goal

Targacept could be in line for a $30 million payment if AstraZeneca chooses to license its mid-stage drug for schizophrenia. In a Phase II trial, TC-5619 met the protocol met the main endpoint of the study by improving cognitive function. Additionally, the findings held up among tobacco users; up to 80 percent of patients with schizophrenia are smokers. However, no activity was seen in non-smokers. The most frequent adverse event was mild to moderate nausea, but no patient dropped out of the trial due to side effects.

"Companies have historically found it very difficult to achieve signals of cognitive improvement in clinical trials in this patient population, so we are very pleased that our enthusiasm for TC-5619 and the therapeutic application of alpha7 was validated in this study," said CEO J. Donald deBethizy in a statement.

As part of a deal signed in 2005, AstraZeneca has an option to license TC-5619. If the Pharma chooses to do so, it will assume responsibility for and fund all future development and commercialization. Targacept could then earn up to $212 in addition payments, not including royalties. AstraZeneca will decide whether to exercise its license right in the first half of 2011.

- here's Targacept's release
- read the article from Reuters