Abbott and Reata announce deal to develop and commercialize next-gen antioxidant inflammation modulators

The two companies plan to explore broad therapeutic potential of AIM class in an agreement that calls for a 50-50 global profit share for multiple new molecules

Jeffrey Bouley
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ABBOTT PARK, Ill.—Just a little over a year ago,in September 2010, Reata Pharmaceuticals Inc. granted to Abbott exclusive rights todevelop and commercialize its lead antioxidant inflammation modulator (AIM)compound, bardoxolone methyl, outside of the United States, excluding certainAsian markets. Now the two companies have gone a few steps forward in theirrelationship in announcing that they have entered into a worldwidecollaboration to jointly develop and commercialize Reata's portfolio ofsecond-generation oral AIMs.
For the most part, the deal is a 50-50 split, withthe companies equally sharing costs and profits for all new AIMs in all newlylicensed indications except for rheumatoid arthritis and select otherautoimmune diseases. In those select cases, Abbott will take 70 percent ofcosts and profits and Reata will take 30 percent. This new deal—in which Abbottis to pay a one-time license payment of $400 million to Reata—is a globalagreement and includes a large number of molecules in a broad range oftherapeutic areas, including pulmonary, central nervous system disorders andimmunology. The companies expect the first compound in this collaboration toenter into human clinical trials in 2012.
The newly penned collaboration agreement alsoincludes a research provision calling for the companies to work together indiscovering new molecules that exhibit the same pharmacology as the AIMsalready in Reata's pipeline.
The companies refer to AIMs as "potent activatorsof the transcription factor Nrf2" and note that activation of Nrf2 promotes theproduction of a wide range of antioxidant, detoxification and anti-inflammatorygenes. Activation of Nrf2 also inhibits NF-κB, a transcription factor thatregulates many pro-inflammatory enzymes, they add, and suppression of Nrf2 andactivation of NF-κB have been associated with numerous chronic diseases,including multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic kidney disease,neurodegenerative disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Therefore,agents that activate Nrf2 and inhibit NF-κB may be beneficial in the treatmentof these chronic diseases, they say.
On a more practical business side, of course, "Thisdeal helps Reata advance new molecules into clinical development in multipleimportant diseases and enables our company to build a global commercialpresence," according to Reata CEO Warren Huff.
"This partnership allows Abbott to enhance itspromising research pipeline across multiple therapeutic areas," added Dr. JohnLeonard, Abbott's senior vice president of pharmaceuticals, research anddevelopment, in the official announcement about the deal. "Accumulating datahas established the potential for antioxidant inflammation modulators inneuroscience and immunology, and we look forward to expanding our knowledgethrough further research."
The WallStreet Journal calls the deal "a risky gambit" to bolster Abbott's drugpipeline, noting that the deal "is among the largest between a pharmaceuticalcompany and a small biotechnology company to secure rights to multiplecompounds that haven't been tested yet in humans," according to a database ofsuch transactions kept by Elsevier Business Intelligence.

Jeffrey Bouley

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