Based: Palo Alto, CA
The Scoop: "Anacor's $675 million partnership deal early this year helped raise the bar on what Big Pharma was willing to pay for the licensing rights to a promising therapeutic. Anacor has big plans for the money as it builds on its chemistry platform."
What makes it Fierce: Early this year, Anacor helped set the tone for an astonishing surge of biotech partnership deals with its $675 million-plus pact with Schering-Plough for its mid-stage therapy for onychomycosis, a fungal infection of the nail and nail bed that affects 7 to 10 percent of the U.S. population. Schering-Plough agreed to put up $40 million, tied that to a $10 million financing committee and agreed to a $575 million schedule of milestones. Anacor also held onto co-promotion rights for dermatologists in the U.S.
Anacor identified AN2690 with its boron chemistry platform. Even in preclinical studies AN2690 showed an ability to kill the fungus at the site of the infection. The drug is now in three mid-stage trials and Anacor has two other programs in the clinic as well; one for psoriasis and another for atopic dermatitis. AN2728 hit the clinics this year as researchers test its ability to inhibit cytokines that play a role in inflammation related to psoriasis. Researchers produced encouraging data for AN0128 as a treatment for atopic dermatitis and it's now in Phase IIb for children with the condition.
It's all clear validation to Anacor's approach to investigating the uses of boron, a natural and ubiquitous compound.
What to look for: Anacor has 20 patent applications to protect its work in boron chemistry. Dermatology was a natural way to launch new products with relatively quick approval cycles. But the company is clearly looking beyond dermatology as it begins new discovery efforts.