GSK, ChemoCentryx team up on chemokine research

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MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.—July 24, 2007—With the acceptance of its orally bioavailable small-molecule CCX354, a candidate chemokine receptor inhibitor, ChemoCentryx received a $5 million milestone payment from GSK, under its deal to identify drug candidates for the treatment of inflammatory disorders. "We believe CCX354 may be well suited for the treatment of RA [rheumatoid arthritis], given that inflammatory cells expressing the CCR1 chemokine receptor are abundant in inflamed joints of patients with arthritis," says Dr. Thomas J. Schall, ChemoCentryx president and CEO. "Also, unlike existing injectable or infusible treatments for RA, CCX354 is designed as an oral medicine, which is highly potent and selective for the CCR1 target."
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.—Clinical-stage phar­maceutical firm ChemoCentryx announced recently the signing of a strategic alliance with GSK that will see the companies dis­cover, develop and market medicines target­ing inflammatory disorders. The research will be conducted through GSK's Center for Excellence for External Drug Discovery (CEEDD) operation and will result in an upfront payment to ChemoCentryx of $63.5 million in cash and equity investments in the form of Series D financing. (See story about Series C financing.)
"When the CEEDD was created and was looking to establish a broad collaboration in the field of inflammation, the CEEDD did a thorough review of all the companies in the chemokine space and ChemoCentryx was identified as the leading chemokine drug discovery company," says Mark Strobeck, CEEDD VP, business development.
The research, which will be funded by GSK, will focus on chemokine and chemoat­tractant receptors, and assuming successful development and commercialization, could result in revenues of up to $1.5 billion for ChemoCentryx, not including double-digit product sales royalties. ChemoCentryx will be responsible for taking small-molecule candidates through clinical proof-of-con­cept, at which point GSK will have the option to license the products for development.
"This important alliance with GSK will provide us with access to significant capital in the near and long term to support the ongo­ing development of each of these programs, as well as the ability to continue to discover and bring forward multiple new compounds targeting the chemokine system," said Dr. Thomas J. Schall, ChemoCentryx president and CEO, in a prepared statement.
Given the recent troubles with the COX-2 inhibitor family of drugs, the deal comes at a significant time for both GSK and ChemoCentryx. According to a March 2006 report by BCC Research, the mar­ket for anti-inflammatory thera­peutics was $21.9 billion in 2005 and is expected to reach $35.5 bil­lion by 2010, a compound annual growth rate of 10 percent.
"In recent years there have been huge advances in the understand­ing of autoimmunity/inflammation and disease," Strobeck explains. "This understanding has lead to a number of targeted therapies, the majority of which are injectable biologics."
The GSK-ChemoCentryx deal, however, marks a distinct depar­ture from the biologics efforts. "Our collaboration with ChemoCentryx is based upon finding oral small molecules that are as targeted but don't carry the same side effects or inconvenience of injectable bio­logics and are thus able to treat a larger population of patients," Strobeck says.
The deal not only serves as a val­idation of ChemoCentryx's exper­tise in the chemokine therapeutics space, but also its pipeline, as the agreement includes Traficet-EN, a CCR9 antagonist that is currently part of a multinational clinical trial of people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Under the terms of the deal, ChemoCentryx retains the option to co-develop and co-promote Traficet-EN in IBD with­in the United States to certain phy­sician specialists.

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