The eyes have it in Asterand-Allergan deal

Asterand plc announced last month an exclusive licensing agreement with Allergan Inc. to develop and commercialize a series of Asterand’s proprietary compounds with ophthalmic indications.

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DETROIT—Asterand plc announced last month an exclusive licensing agreement with Allergan Inc. to develop and commercialize a series of Asterand's proprietary compounds with ophthalmic indications. In total, the deal could be worth up to $56 million in milestone payments and royalties for Asterand over its lifetime. At the heart of the deal is developing and commercializing several compounds that Asterand, which specializes in human-tissue research, has been working on to treat eye diseases, like glaucoma.

The compounds are selective, small molecule prostaglandin receptor agonists that have shown efficacy for reducing IOP in Asterand's preclinical R99 development program.
John Stchur, CFO of Asterand, says Allergan may be the perfect dance partner for the company, offering a legacy of developing therapeutic programs. "Licensing these programs allows for their continued development while we focus on our core business, which is further advancing discovery by being the pre-eminent supplier of human tissue and human tissure-based services," says Stchur.
Moreover, Stchur adds that Asterand will work to provide Allergan with human tissues and services "to accelerate the identification and validation of drug targets and enhance the slection of drug candidates with an increased likelihood of clinical success."

In addition to the core agreement, the deal also provides Allergan with exclusive rights to further develop and commercialize specific lead compounds originally discovered and developed by Asterand and will tender Asterand an initial technology access fee of $6.25 million.

Asterand will be entitled to receive success-based development and sales milestone payments that could total up to $56 million, as well as additional royalties, according to the release.

Asterand will focus on furthering its other preclinical projects, including looking for out-licensing opportunities, says Martyn Coombs, CEO of Asterand. The company has drug discovery programs in other prostaglandin agonists for immuno-inflammatory diseases and preterm labor as well as compounds targeted for the treatment of bone disease, cancer, and IBS, he adds.

Coombs adds that the financial aspects of the deal are "significant" and adds his company is pleased that Allergan has decided to carry its prostaglandin program forward after evaluating it under an exclusive material transfer agreement.

"Allergan has the expertise, reputation and resources to potentially turn these compounds into effective treatments for diseases of the eye, especially glaucoma," adds Stchur.

Coombs says the company will ramp up its effort into realizing the value of those programs by seeking out-licensing opportunities. DDN

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