Purdue plots a joint venture to push its pain pill pipeline

Purdue Pharma is planning to spin out some of its in-development pain drugs in a joint venture with AnaBios, tapping the biotech's development technology to speed along a handful of early-stage projects.

The joint venture will focus on Purdue's pipeline assets that target the Nav1.7 sodium ion channel to treat chronic pain, the company said. Nav1.7 is expressed in nociceptive neurons--those associated with feeling pain--and Purdue believes selectively blocking the pathway could lead to novel analgesics.

To follow through on that promise, Purdue has recruited AnaBios to provide its proprietary discovery platform, which uses human tissues in lieu of animal models in preclinical development. Called Phase-X, AnaBios' system will help generate the best candidates from Purdue's Nav1.7-targeting leads, the company said, allowing the joint venture build a pipeline of preclinical assets.

For Purdue, the move comes a few weeks after the privately held drugmaker signed a deal worth as much as $213 million to bring another potential painkiller. Under an agreement with VM Pharma, Purdue licensed an antagonist of the signaling protein TrkA, which regulates nerve growth and plays a role in chronic pain, and is planning to move it into Phase II early next year.

And Purdue has been reaching outside of its home market in chronic pain to expand its pipeline, last month signing a deal with Eisai to split the costs of lemborexant, a Phase III insomnia treatment the company believes could become a disruptive force on the market for sleep aids.

- read the statement