Drugs discovery business signs $402m deal with pharma giant AstraZeneca
28th November 2022
Manchester-based drugs discovery business, C4X Discovery Holdings, has signed an excusive global licensing deal with pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, worth up to $402m.
The agreement is for C4XD’s NRF2 Activator programme linked to the treatment of inflammatory and respiratory diseases, with a lead focus on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
AstraZeneca, which employs around 4,700 people in the North West on sites at Macclesfield and Alderley Park in Cheshire and Speke on Merseyside, will develop and commercialise an oral therapy.
Under the terms of the agreement, C4XD will receive pre-clinical milestone payments worth up to $16m ahead of the first clinical trial, including $2m up front.
In addition, C4XD is eligible to receive a further potential $385.8m in clinical development and commercial milestones and tiered mid-single digit royalties on commercialisation.
Sir Mene Pangalos, executive vice president, BioPharmaceuticals R&D, AstraZeneca, said: “At AstraZeneca, we are committed to transforming care in respiratory and immune-mediated disease and move beyond symptom control.
“Our alliance with C4XD adds an important new asset to our portfolio to push the boundaries of science by targeting underlying disease drivers to potentially modify the course of these diseases.”
Dr Clive Dix, CEO of C4XD, said: “Drug discovery is inherently scientifically complex, and it is through our unique expertise and proprietary cutting-edge technologies that C4XD is yet again proving itself as an exemplar in this field.
“NRF2 is thought to be a critical but challenging anti-inflammatory target, and I am proud of the work by our team to achieve a broad stable of intellectual property for this programme, leading to our third significant deal with a truly world-renowned industry leader.”
He added: “The COPD market alone is worth close to $20bn and rising. But, more importantly, I know that in AstraZeneca’s hands, with their scientific, technical and commercial expertise, our NRF2 Activator programme has the potential to deliver life-changing treatments for the millions of patients suffering with COPD across the world.”
Inflammation is a key driver in many pathological conditions including respiratory diseases.
NRF2 is an important natural regulator, controlling the expression of antioxidant genes, and it plays a key role in cellular defence against external insults, as well as the regulation of the inflammatory response.
Targeting the NRF2 pathway to reduce inflammatory damage offers the potential for a new approach to treat a variety of inflammatory diseases such as COPD, where activation of NRF2 may help in reducing the negative effects of the oxidative stress-induced progression of the disease.
Lead molecules from C4XD’s oral NRF2 Activator programme have been found to significantly activate NRF2 following oral dosing, providing anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity.
In August, C4XD raised £5.7m through a share placing with its institutional directors.
The placing further supported corporate development and ongoing commercial activities. In particular, the company said it intended to use the net proceeds of the placing to strengthen the balance sheet as partnering discussions progress, continue to develop the company’s portfolio of early-stage, high-value small molecule programmes, and continue to apply C4XD’s technologies to validate the next generation of commercially attractive targets and programmes.
The net proceeds of the placing were expected to provide C4XD with at least 12 months’ working capital.
Following today’s announcement, investment bank Panmure Gordon issued a note by Dr Julie Simmonds and Dr Mike Mitchell, saying: “C4XD is now well funded to develop the earlier stage programmes in its recently expanded pipeline.
“Total potential milestones available to the company from the three commercial deals are now over $1.2bn, plus royalties. We reiterate our BUY recommendation and 47p target price.”
C4XD shares closed at 20.7p last Friday. They jumped more than 30% to 28.28p per share in early trading.
Author: Neil Hodgson, Business Reporter
Dr Julie Simmonds
Managing Director, Research Analyst, Healthcare
Dr Mike Mitchell
Director, Research Analyst, Healthcare