Chroma signs huge deal with GSK
Abingdon/London – Biotech platform technologies apparently still matter. An advanced technology platform could now end up bringing US$1bn to British drug developer Chroma Therapeutics Ltd. At the end of June, the Abingdon-based biotech company inked a collaboration agreement with pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to develop macrophage-targeted compounds using Chroma’s esterase-sensitive motif (ESM) technology. The technology is designed to target compounds in the cytoplasm of specific cells by coupling them to certain amino acid esters that are cleaved inside the cell, leaving a charged molecule incapable of leaking out of the cell. The approach could bring advantages in treatments for inflammatory diseases by increasing the therapeutic window when compared to the “parent” drug, and reducing systemic exposure outside of the macrophages. Chroma has already applied the technology to a number of key inflammation targets such as P38 MAP Kinase, PI-3 Kinase, IKK-beta and PDE4.
Under the terms of the collaboration with GSK’s Centre of Excellence for External Drug Discovery (CEEDD) in Stevenage (UK), Chroma will undertake four programmes to identify small molecule therapeutics, including a macrophage-targeted HDAC inhibitor programme for inflammatory disorders such as RA.
GSK announced that Chroma will receive a significant up-front cash payment, and that GSK will participate in Chroma’s recent EUR17.5m equity financing. Additionally, Chroma is to receive milestones, option fees and tiered royalties based on compounds arising from the collaboration. The deal could total up to US$1bn in case of clinical proof-of-concept in all programmes.
GSK may elect to obtain an exclusive, worldwide license to product candidates within the programme. At such time GSK will assume full responsibility for development and commercialisation. Chroma will retain full rights to further develop and commercialise its product candidates in any programme GSK chooses not to license.
“We believe Chroma’s ESM platform has tremendous potential,” stated Shelagh Wilson, Vice President and Head of the European CEEDD, while Chroma’s CEO Ian Nicholson said the collaboration was a strong validation of his company’s cell accumulation approach.