Celgene inks $11M inflammation deal with Array BioPharma

Array BioPharma ($ARRY) has pocketed $11 million from Celgene for a preclinical-stage partnership to discover drugs against an undisclosed cause of inflammation. The heavily back-ended payment schedule for the deal includes up to $376 million in payments from Celgene ($CELG) based on the success of drug candidates from Array, which also stands to gain royalty checks on potential winners.

Celgene has spread its bets widely across a number of external groups working on discovering drugs for inflammation and cancer. And the arrangement with Array represents a relatively small upfront bet for the Summit, NJ-based biotech powerhouse, which has just forked over $100 million for an option to buy Acetylon and the Boston startup's HDAC6 inhibitor in early clinical development for myeloma.

Array is also active on the partnership scene and has relied on collaborators such as Roche ($RHHBY) and Novartis ($NVS) to advance some of its leading drug candidates in oncology. The company also just revealed upbeat midstage data in asthma patients for an oral CRTh2 antagonist called ARRY-502, which could be one of the Boulder, CO-based developer's next assets for a partnership. That is the company's hope.

Celgene and Array did not disclose the details of the inflammation pathway involved in their new collaboration. Yet clinical trials have validated Array's ability to discover small-molecule compounds with activity against causes of inflammation and pain.

"Given Celgene's global leadership and expertise in the development and commercialization of innovative therapies and Array's solid track record of inventing and progressing targeted drugs into clinical trials," Array Chief Scientific Officer Kevin Koch stated, "we believe this alliance will maximize the value of a very exciting and innovative program." 

Array has the right to take over development of any compounds from the alliance that Celgene opts not to pursue. Shares of Array jumped 7% to $6.70 per share in after-hours trading Monday.

- here's the release from Array