Cytokinetics to target skeletal muscle activators with Astellas

Partners will collaborate for two years to develop current drug candidates and discover potential candidates in a deal that could total more than $490 million

Kelsey Kaustinen
SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO—Cytokinetics, Inc. and Astellas PharmaInc. have formed a collaboration for the research, development andcommercialization of skeletal muscle activators. The partners will seek toadvance therapies for diseases and medical conditions associated with muscleweakness, jointly conducting research in skeletal muscle activation.
 
 
"We are excited to work with Cytokinetics to expand the newfrontier of muscle biology related to the very innovative mechanism of actionof skeletal muscle activation," Yoshihiko Hatanaka, president and CEO ofAstellas, said in a press release. "This new collaboration illustratesAstellas' important commitment to enhance its abilities to generate innovativedrugs by deploying cutting-edge science, accessing distinguished internal andexternal talent and utilizing the optimal research environment."
 
 
Per the terms of the collaboration, Astellas has anexclusive license to the co-development and commercialization rights forCK-2127107, a fast skeletal troponin activator drug candidate, for potentialapplication in non-neuromuscular indications. The compound will be jointlydeveloped by Cytokinetics and Astellas. Cytokinetics will be primarilyresponsible for conducting Phase I clinical trials and some Phase II readinessactivities for the compound, while Astellas will be responsible for conductingsubsequent development and commercialization activities. Astellas will holdexclusive rights for the development and commercialization of other fastskeletal troponin activators in non-neuromuscular indications, and other novelmechanism skeletal muscle activators in all indications, subject to certainrights of Cytokinetics' with regards to development and commercialization.Cytokinetics stands to receive more than $40 million in an upfront payment aswell as reimbursement for sponsored research and development activities duringthe two years of the collaboration, and is eligible for more than $450 millionin pre-commercialization and commercialization milestones, plus royalties.
 
 
The partners will also be working together to identifynext-generation skeletal muscle activators with the potential to be drugcandidates, and Astellas will assume responsibility for activities and costsassociated with developing collaboration products. Cytokinetics will have anoption to conduct early-stage development for certain indications at itsexpense, with possible reimbursement if development continues under thecollaboration. Astellas will hold exclusive rights to commercialize collaborationproducts globally, subject to Cytokinetics' option to co-promote collaborationproducts in the United States and Canada. In conjunction with co-promotionactivities, Cytokinetics will be reimbursed for certain expenses.
 
"We are pleased to enter into this collaboration withAstellas, which will enable us to expand our research and development in thearea of skeletal muscle activators," Cytokinetics' President and CEO, Robert I.Blum, commented in a statement. "Through this collaboration, we intend to jointlyinvestigate the potential role that CK-2127107 and follow-on skeletal muscleactivators can play in providing functional improvements in patients withdiseases characterized by muscle weakness and fatigue. We are impressed withAstellas' strategic vision and capabilities in the areas of novel mechanismbiopharmaceutical research and development."
 
 
CK-2127107 is a novel small-molecule activator of the fastskeletal muscle troponin complex and is currently being developed "for thepotential improvement of skeletal muscle function in diseases and medicalconditions associated with neuromuscular dysfunction, muscular weakness and/ormuscle fatigue." The compound "slows the rate of calcium release from theregulatory troponin complex of fast skeletal muscle fibers, which sensitizesthe sarcomere to calcium," Cytokinetics notes on its website, and is currentlyin Phase I clinical development.
 
 
 
 
SOURCE: Cytokinetics press release

Kelsey Kaustinen

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