OXFORD, U.K.—Chronos Therapeutics Ltd., a private biotech company focused on aging diseases, brain and nervous system disorders, has acquired three preclinical development programs targeting central nervous system (CNS) diseases from a subsidiary of Shire Plc. The programs—which target fatigue in multiple sclerosis, addictive behaviors and potentially post-traumatic stress disorder—may have potential beyond the initial target indications.
Chronos has acquired all intellectual property, know-how, development and marketing rights for each program on a worldwide basis. Each disease target represents an area of significant unmet medical need. Financial details of the deal are undisclosed.
According to Dr. Huw Jones, CEO of Chronos, “Chronos will have a two-level relationship with Shire. Shire is now an equity investor. As such, Shire can participate in any upside the company generates for its shareholders. Specifically, Shire is eligible for milestone payments on regulatory approval of products relating to the programs, followed by royalties and milestone payments on sales of the products. Shire has a right of first negotiation for each of the programs on commercial terms in the event that Chronos does not invest specified minimum amounts.”
Jones explained that all three programs from Shire “will be taken forward in parallel.” The transaction “expands Chronos’ pipeline significantly and complements the company’s existing program in the fatal motor neuron disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).”
“At the end of 2015, Chronos took the strategic decision to broaden the company,” said Jones. “This opportunity was one that came through after literally hundreds of partnering meetings. The three programs represented a good fit to the research philosophy. They were good targets with a very high unmet medical need, with good commercial opportunities.”
Because the three programs all represent significant unmet medical needs, they have significant commercial potential going forward based on external research with opinion leaders conducted on behalf of Chronos, according to Jones.
The Multiple Sclerosis International Federation estimates that 2.3 million people globally have multiple sclerosis (MS). Fatigue, the most common symptom of MS, occurs in 75 to 95 percent of patients with MS, and as many as 40 percent of patients have described it as the single most disabling symptom of the disease.
There are two major types of fatigue in MS, which probably represent separate problems related to the MS. The first type is a general feeling of tiredness, as if one has not slept the night before and the second type of fatigue is muscular, with increased weakness after repeated activity.
Numerous addictive behaviors represent significant unmet medical needs and require novel treatments. Addiction to nicotine via tobacco kills one person prematurely every six seconds and 50 percent of long-term smokers, according to World Health Organization (WHO) reports, with tobacco-attributed deaths predicted to rise to 8 million globally a year by 2030. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that about 480,000 Americans die every year from smoking-related causes involving cancers (chiefly lung cancer), stroke, heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Excessive alcohol use has caused 10 percent of deaths among working-age adults from 20 to 64 in the United States, with costs in 2010 in the U.S. alone of $249 billion. WHO estimates that harmful alcohol use causes 3.3 million deaths a year, globally. Short-term health risks, most often the result of binge drinking, include accidents, injuries, alcohol poisoning and risky sexual behaviors. Over a longer term, excessive alcohol use can lead to chronic diseases, including high blood pressure, cancer, mental health and social problems.
Jones concluded, “We are very pleased to have acquired these programs, extending the breadth of our portfolio and complementing our program in ALS. Taking the programs forward in areas of unmet need in the CNS segment creates significant value for Chronos and its shareholders, as well as ultimately providing patients with new treatment options, alleviating significant suffering.”