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GSK licenses arthritis drug from ChemoCentryx

Second deal between two companies sees GSK gain worldwide rights to CCX354

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has licensed a second compound developed under its collaboration with ChemoCentryx.

The UK-headquartered pharma company opted for an anti-inflammatory drug candidate for rheumatoid arthritis, which is in phase II testing.

GSK will pay a $25m option fee to gain worldwide rights to CCX354, a selective inhibitor of the chemokine receptor CCR1, and will fund the future development of the drug.

If it is approved, ChemoCentryx stands to receive double-digit royalties on sales.

"The exercise fee associated with this agreement provides additional financial flexibility to our already strong balance sheet," commented ChemoCentryx' chief executive Thomas Schall.

California-based ChemoCentryx reported positive phase II results with CCX354 at last year's American College of Rheumatology (ACR) annual meeting, which indicated that the drug was safe, well-tolerated and achieved a clinical effect on rheumatoid arthritis at a dose of 200mg once-daily.

The CARAT-2 trial found that more than half (56 per cent) of patients taking that dose achieved a 20 per cent improvement or more on arthritis symptoms, compared to 30 per cent of patients on placebo.

CCX354 was also significantly better than control at reducing levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a biomarker for inflammation.

The drug is believed to work by blocking the recruitment and migration of inflammatory cells into the joints of people with rheumatoid arthritis, thereby reducing the inflammation in the joint as well as associated pain, swelling and tissue damage.

ChemoCentryx secured a $1.5bn alliance with GSK in 2006, focusing on six compounds across four disease targets, all in the inflammatory disease area.

In January 2010, GSK exercised a $35m option to license ChemoCentryx' CCX282-B (now known as GSK 1605786), an orally-active CCR9 inhibitor which is in trials as a treatment for inflammatory bowel disease. That project has now advanced into phase III in moderate-to-severe Crohn's disease.

The other two targets covered by the GSK alliance are C5aR and ChemR23, both of which are involved in the regulation of inflammatory responses.

ChemoCentryx recently advanced its lead C5aR inhibitor (CCX168) into phase II testing for anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA)-associated vasculitis, a disease which can lead to renal and pulmonary failure.

A lead ChemR23 blocker (CCX832) is now in phase I development and has potential in the treatment of inflammatory skin diseases.

Meanwhile, in addition to these projects, ChemoCentryx has a CCR2 inhibitor (CCX140-B) in phase II for diabetic nephropathy - which is not partnered with GSK.

6th January 2012

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