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Sanofi signs $805 million deal for MS drug

Published on 10/11/17 at 10:20am

Sanofi has decided to build its pipeline in neurological disorders with the agreement to develop Principia Biopharma’s BTK inhibitor candidate for multiple sclerosis (MS). The deal works out at $40 million upfront and there is a further $765 million lying in-wait for Principia, dependent upon milestone payments.

In an unusual aspect to the deal, Principia has been given an option to jump back into the deal at a later date; the agreement has provision that allows the company to co-fund Phase 3 development of the candidate to increase its share of worldwide royalties or, alternatively, take a “profile and loss sharing arrangement in the US”.

The candidate itself has only just entered in Phase 1 clinical trial but clearly there is enough promise there that Sanofi is ready to take a gamble on the company.

PRN2246 is designed to cross the blood-brain barrier, thereby entering the brain and able to travel through the spine. Sanofi released that the candidate is able to impact immune cells and brain cell signalling once it passes through the brain barrier. Its action could potentially mean developing uses for BTK inhibitor in other central nervous system diseases.

“Our agreement with Principia is an example of Sanofi’s strategic commitment to build our drug discovery and development pipeline in MS and neurological diseases,” says Rita Balice-Gordon, Global Head of MS/Neuroscience Therapeutic Research Area at Sanofi. “Complementing our own internal R&D expertise, external relationships like this may accelerate delivery of new treatments to patients living with these serious diseases.”

Sanofi has experience in the area of MS, with two products, Aubagio and Lemtrada, currently only the market and PRN2246 could add to this portfolio.

For Principia, the deal has been used to bolster its cash-reserves in order to progress other candidates through development:

“Sanofi is an ideal partner for PRN2246. The agreement allows Principia to maximize the BTK opportunity in neurology with a strong partner for PRN2246 while focusing internal resources on our lead BTK inhibitor in another therapeutic area,” said Martin Babler, Chief Executive Officer of Principia Biopharma.

Its lead candidate is PRN1008, another BTK inhibitor, that met its primary endpoint in interim data released on a Phase 2 trial in late September, for the treatment of pemphigus (an autoimmune skin disease).

Ben Hargreaves

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