Vertex, CF Foundation expand alliance in $75M deal

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Therapeutics is handing Vertex Pharmaceuticals $75 million to support development of two early-stage candidates that target the underlying causes of the disease. The most advanced candidate is VX-661, which is headed into Phase II trials this year. Cystic fibrosis is caused by defective or missing CF transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) proteins. VX-661 and VX-809 seek to increase CFTR function by increasing the movement of CFTR to the cell surface.

The deal will last five years and support R&D activities on the two candidates. CFFT gains royalties on future net sales of drugs developed as part of the research collaboration.

"The collaboration announced today underscores our commitment to CF and accelerates our efforts to develop new medicines as quickly as possible for people with the most common type of this disease," said Vertex CEO Matthew Emmens in a statement. "By advancing VX-809 and VX-661 in parallel, we hope to generate data to inform future studies of corrector regimens while continuing to invest in additional research for CF."

Vertex has completed Phase III trials of VX-770, a more advanced cystic fibrosis drug that aims to correct a genetic defect that triggers the disease. An NDA will likely be filed later this year.

- here's the release from Vertex