Pairing up against pain

Astellas Pharma, Chromocell to develop, commercialize therapeutics for neuropathic pain conditions

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TOKYO & NORTH BRUNSWICK, N.J.—Astellas Pharma Inc. has struck up a license and collaboration agreement with Chromocell Corporation to develop and commercialize therapeutics to treat neuropathic and other pain conditions. Per the agreement, Astellas will receive worldwide rights to commercialize CC8464, Chromocell's lead compound, and backup drug candidates to treat pain that have been identified through the latter's Chromovert technology platform. Chromovert enables the identification of rare cells that are ideally suited for effective high-throughput screening. This system makes it possible to identify cells that express therapeutic targets in physiologically relevant forms.
“I am pleased to enter into this agreement with Chromocell which has the breakthrough technologies leading to the innovative new drug development,” Dr. Kenji Yasukawa, senior vice president and chief strategy officer of Astellas, said in a press release.. “Astellas expects to provide a new therapeutic option to neuropathic and other pain conditions with high unmet medical needs by the collaboration to develop CC8464, and to make further contributions to the treatment of patients with pain conditions.”
Astellas will pay Chromocell $15 million up front, and Chromocell also stands to receive more than $500 million including development and commercial milestones, in addition to double-digit royalties on sales should CC8464 be successfully commercialized. Chromocell will handle all development of CC8464 through the initial Phase 2a proof-of-concept clinical trial in neuropathic pain, with Astellas taking the lead on all further development activities through to commercialization in the indication of peripheral neuropathic pain. Beyond those development activities, Chromocell can propose and initiate studies for certain additional indications, such as rare diseases or non-oral formulations of CC8464. Should it elect to do so, Astellas has the right to opt-in for development for such additional indications, which would trigger additional payments to Chromocell and, in select instances, co-promotion rights in the United States.
CC8464 is an oral, peripherally acting inhibitor of NaV1.7, an ion channel involved in the transmission of pain. It is thought that this compound could demonstrate efficacy in a number of large, unmet or poorly served chronic pain markets as well as rare, currently untreated diseases.
Chromocell points out on its website that there are several indications with large patient populations in which CC8464 has potential for treating pain. The compound “has been able to both prevent and treat diabetic neuropathic pain in animal models of type 1 diabetes,” and Chromocell notes that nearly 400 million people worldwide, including up to 70 percent of diabetics, suffer some sort of neuropathy. That neuropathic pain is thought to be at least partially because of damage done to nerve fibers that express NaV1.7. CC8464 has also shown potential in several animal models that are thought to be predictive of efficacy in treating osteoarthritis, which affects roughly 27 million Americans.
“We are delighted to enter a collaboration with Astellas for the development and commercialization of CC8464 as patients still lack adequate therapeutics against pain. Astellas’ leadership and commitment in the pain space make this an ideal partnership. Chromovert technology enables effective drug discovery with complex targets like NaV1.7, opening up opportunities in areas with unmet medical needs. We look forward to work closely with Astellas in the development of CC8464 to provide innovative therapeutics to patients with pain conditions,” Christian Kopfli, Chromocell's CEO, commented.

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