It’s the second drug discovery alliance in two years that involves the companies. In 2010, GSK and FivePrime partnered to find products that treat skeletal muscle disorders, a deal that was expanded last year. Under the new partnership, the companies aim to find new ways to treat asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, or COPD.
Over the next four years, privately held FivePrime stands to gain up to $30 million from the new deal in the form of up-front payments, GSK purchase of FivePrime equity, research funding and option payments related to the program. FivePrime could get up to $193.5 million more if GSK licenses a drug candidate from the alliance. FivePrime would also receive royalties on any drug commercialized from the partnership.
FivePrime has drug discovery capabilities built on a library of secreted and extracellular human proteins. The company’s other drug discovery and development partners include Human Genome Sciences (NASDAQ:HGSI) and Pfizer (NYSE:PFE). The GSK respiratory diseases deal calls for FivePrime to use its technology to find and validate potential drug targets and drug candidates. Britain-based GSK, which maintains its U.S. headquarters in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, holds an option to an exclusive license of selected targets from the collaboration.
For most of the licensed targets, GSK would take responsibility for preclinical, clinical and commercialization activities. For a “limited number of GSK-licensed targets,” FivePrime has the opportunity to advance biologic products through proof-of-mechanism clinical studies. After that, GSK has the exclusive option to license global rights for those products with FivePrime set to receive “enhanced financial payments.”
The skeletal muscle partnership with GSK gave FivePrime $15 million in up-front payments, the purchase of equity from GSK, and research payments. FivePrime could receive up to $124 million in option fees and milestones from that deal.
“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 FivePrime CEO Lewis T. “Rusty” Williams said in a statement.