Evotec partners up for rare disease R&D in a discovery deal

Evotec's CRO division signed a deal with the Beyond Batten Disease Foundation to help discover new potential treatments for the rare, fatal nervous disorder.

Under the agreement, Evotec will lend its early-stage know-how to help the foundation vet potential therapies for Batten disease, an inherited disorder of the nervous system that often leads to seizures, psychosis and premature death. Evotec will join existing foundation-led efforts to turn academic research into viable drug candidates. The German company is on hand to help the foundation pick winning ideas and back away from those less likely to success in early development.

Evotec isn't disclosing financial details of the deal, saying only that it includes "substantial research funding" and stretches through 2017 with an optional extension.

The partnership follows a line of research tie-ups for Evotec, which has joined forces with the National Cancer Institute, Yale University, Harvard University and others.

Each deal taps EVT Execute, the company's in-house CRO that provides drug development services on a contract basis and has ongoing relationships with Roche ($RHHBY), Sanofi ($SNY), Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) and other drugmakers. EVT Innovate, Evotec's other unit, develops proprietary therapies to be outlicensed to pharma partners.

In the first half of the year, Evotec grew its revenue by 37%, with its CRO division growing 49% over the same period in 2014 to offset a 5% decline in proprietary R&D cash.

- read the statement (PDF)