GSK doubles down on FivePrime drug discovery collaboration

Less than two years after GlaxoSmithKline joined the queue of development partners at South San Francisco-based FivePrime Therapeutics, the pharma giant has stepped back up to the table with a deal to buy into the company and expand their discovery work to include a slate of respiratory drugs. GSK ($GSK) has earmarked $30 million for an upfront, equity stake, research support and options over the next four years, with up to $193.5 million in fees and milestones up for grabs for any new products the pharma giant in-licenses.

In the deal, FivePrime--which FierceBiotech tapped as a Fierce 15 company back in 2004--will use its protein technology to come up with new respiratory drug candidates for GSK. And GSK will have the exclusive licensing rights on what the biotech finds as it hunts down up to 6 new programs for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.  

"Our existing GSK alliance to discover products for skeletal muscle disorders, which was recently expanded last year, is making great progress, so we are extremely pleased to enter into this additional collaboration." said Lewis T. "Rusty" Williams, the founder and CEO of FivePrime.

FivePrime has closely allied itself with a who's who in drug development. A year ago it inked a $495 million licensing deal--$50 million upfront--with Human Genome Sciences ($HGSI) for the cancer drug candidate FP-1039. And the biotech has worked with Pfizer ($PFE) and Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) and others since it was founded in 2001.

Williams was brought in as acting CEO in 2011. Gail Maderis had earlier been CEO for 6 years, subsequently taking the helm at BayBio.

- here's the press release