Syk inhibitor focus of new Biogen, Portola collaboration

Biogen Idec and South San Francisco-based Portola Pharmaceuticals, Inc. have announced the launch of an exclusive, worldwide collaboration and license agreement between their companies.

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WESTON, Mass.— Biogen Idec and South San Francisco-basedPortola Pharmaceuticals, Inc. have announced the launch of an exclusive,worldwide collaboration and license agreement between their companies. Underthe agreement, Biogen and Portola will develop and commercialize highlyselective, novel oral Syk inhibitors for the treatment of a variety ofautoimmune and inflammatory diseases, including systemic lupus erythematosus(SLE) and rheumatoid arthritis.
"We are enthusiastic to be working with Portola to advanceits Syk inhibitor as a potential treatment for autoimmune diseases," George A.Scangos, Ph.D., CEO of Biogen Idec, said in a press release. "This program isan excellent strategic fit with our focus on immunology. Portola is ahigh-quality company with a great track record in small molecules, and we havecrafted a collaboration that truly is a win for both companies. We will nowfocus on a thoughtful and aggressive program to fully explore the potential ofPortola's compounds against this very interesting target, with the goal ofcreating an effective, safe and convenient oral treatment for patients withdebilitating autoimmune and inflammatory diseases."
Per the terms of the agreement, Portola will receive anupfront payment from Biogen Idec of $36 million in cash, with the potential foradditional payments of up to $508.5 million based on the achievement of certaindevelopment and regulatory milestones. Biogen Idec will also purchase $9million in Portola equity. Biogen Idec will head the global development andcommercialization efforts for the Syk inhibitor program in major indicationssuch as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, and Portola will head up U.S.development and commercialization efforts for certain smaller indications, aswell as discovery efforts for follow-on Syk inhibitors. In addition, Portolawill retain an option to co-promote in major indications in the United Statesalongside Biogen Idec. The worldwide costs and profits will be split 75 percentand 25 percent between Biogen Idec and Portola, respectively.
"This partnership is an excellent scientific and culturalfit between two biotech companies," William Lis, CEO of Portola, said in apress release. "Biogen Idec is a world-class R&D organization with asignificant global footprint and track record of success in developing andcommercializing innovative autoimmune disease therapies. For Portola, the termsof this collaboration reflect the scientific advances we've made in thediscovery of orally available kinase inhibitors and our vision to commercializeproducts with clear and meaningful value. Partnering with Biogen Idec providesus with the resources and added expertise to pursue the full potential of ourSyk inhibitor program."
The lead molecule in the collaboration, PRT062607, iscurrently in Phase I studies, and has proven to be a highly potent and specificoral inhibitor of Syk in a panel of in-vitro kinase and cellular assays. To date, results suggest that the compoundis well tolerated and is suitable for once-daily dosing.
"A significant portion of people with rheumatoid arthritisdo not respond to currently approved treatments or have only modest responses,and treatment options for lupus are limited," Doug Williams, Ph.D., ExecutiveVice President of Research and Development for Biogen Idec, said in a pressrelease. "Inhibition of Syk has the potential to provide effective,well-tolerated therapies for patients with these and other autoimmune diseases.We are encouraged by the preclinical and clinical data to date and see anopportunity to develop a best-in-class, highly selective oral treatment forthese devastating diseases. This program plays to our strengths and experiencein immunology, particularly B-cell biology, reflects our focus on cutting-edgescience, and strengthens our early-stage pipeline."
The completion of this transaction is subject to customaryclosing conditions, including antitrust clearance by the U.S. Government underthe Hart-Scott-Rodino Act. 
SOUCRCE: Portola press release

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