LONDON—AstraZeneca and Synairgen Plc, a United Kingdom-based company that specializes in respiratory diseases, have inked a global license agreement for SNG001, Synairgen’s novel, inhaled interferon beta (IFN-beta). The compound is currently in clinical development for the treatment of respiratory tract viral infections in patients with severe asthma.
Per the terms of the exclusive license agreement, Synairgen will receive $7.25 million from AstraZeneca in an upfront fee, with the potential for development, regulatory and commercial milestones of up to $225 million. In addition, Synairgen also stands to receive tiered royalties ranging from the single digits up to mid-teens on commercial sales. AstraZeneca will bear the responsibility to future development costs.
“We’re delighted that this truly innovative program, discovered at the University of Southampton and developed by Synairgen, will be taken forward by AstraZeneca,” Richard Marsden, CEO of Synairgen, commented in a statement. “With its strong research focus and extensive experience in respiratory disease, AstraZeneca’s commitment to developing novel medicines for patients with asthma and COPD makes them the ideal partner for SNG001.”
For patients who suffer from asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), respiratory viruses exacerbate symptoms, which in turn can lead to inflammatory response. It is thought that this increased vulnerability to viral infections is due to a deficiency in the patients’ ability to produce IFN-beta in the lungs. Synairgen notes on its website that cold viruses play a leading role as triggers for asthma symptoms getting worse, “with up to eight out of ten asthma-related emergency department visits being associated with these viral infections.” In the case of COPD, the common cold—primarily rhinovirus—is “a major factor contributing to worsening of COPD symptoms,” according to Synairgen; “if a COPD patient catches a cold, there is a 50% chance that it will lead to an exacerbation of their disease.” SNG001 has a broad-spectrum anti-viral effect and delivers IFN-beta to the lungs when an infection starts to develop in the upper airways. Inhaled IFN-beta serves to bolster the anti-viral defense and combat the virus’ spread.
“Respiratory disease is a core therapeutic area for AstraZeneca, and a key growth platform for the company. Our approach includes addressing associated complications that patients experience, as well as developing treatments for the underlying disease. SNG001 is an innovative and targeted therapy that has, if successful, the potential to offer a step-change in the treatment of severe asthma, and possibly COPD,” Maarten Kraan, head of Respiratory, Inflammation & Autoimmune Innovative Medicines at AstraZeneca, said in a press release.
Early next year, AstraZeneca will begin a Phase 2a study in patients with severe asthma, which will build off of clinical data from a Phase 2a trial in a broad asthma population. There is also potential to expand the clinical program for SNG001 into other pulmonary diseases such as COPD.
SOURCE: AstraZeneca press release