GlaxoSmithKline’s decision to withdraw from some areas of neuroscience research is claiming another North Carolina casualty: Biopharmaceutical company Targacept will terminate its partnership with the pharma giant.
Winston Salem, North Carolina-based Targacept’s (NASDAQ:TRGT) partnership with GSK (NYSE:GSK) dates to July 2007. Under the agreement, the R.J. Reynolds spinoff’s discovery efforts, focused on compounds that selectively target specified neuronal nicotinic receptors, or NNRs, was expected to be developed with GSK into new drugs in pain, smoking cessation, addiction, obesity and Parkinson’s disease. Targacept received a $35 million upfront payment from GSK and was eligible to receive up to $1.5 billion in additional milestone payments.
But London-based GSK, which has its U.S. headquarters in North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park, announced last year changes in its neurosciences operations as it withdrew from some neuroscience areas and focused its R&D efforts in other areas. Those changes resulted in layoffs in neuroscience medicines R&D; the most recent round occurring last month in the United States, primarily at GSK’s RTP facility. Targacept said GSK’s changes in neurosciences led to the decision to end the partnership.
“While we are disappointed that we will be no longer working with our colleagues at GlaxoSmithKline, we are energized to have increased flexibility to apply our resources where emerging science dictates,” Targacept President and CEO J. Donald deBethizy, said in a prepared statement. “Our programs in Parkinson’s disease and related disorders, and in smoking cessation remain of great interest to us, and we look forward to continued progress in these areas of high unmet medical need.”
The agreement with GSK will terminate in May. At that point, Targacept will retain full rights to its programs, including compounds discovered or advanced as part of the alliance. Since July 2007, Targacept has received $45 million from GSK, including a $15 million equity investment. GSK is not Targacept’s only drug development partner. Targacept also has an agreement with AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN) in which the companies are developing new drugs to treat depression.
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