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Janssen Biotech signs $975m deal to buy into new oral cancer drug

US biopharmaceutical company Pharmacyclics could receive almost $1bn if all milestones are met

Janssen Biotech has bought into a new investigational cancer drug in a deal that could be worth almost $1bn to Pharmacyclis, the US biopharmaceutical company that discovered it.

Bruton tyrosine kinase inhibitor PCI-32765 is an oral drug that is currently in phase I and II trials for a range of B-cell malignancy disorders including chronic lymphocytic leukaemia and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Both markets are expected to see strong growth over the next few years, with analysts at Research and Markets forecasting chronic lymphocytic leukaemia will be worth $2.2bn by 2020 and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma to reach $11.9 billion by 2017

PCI-32765 is also being developed for a number of other indications, including multiple myeloma, mantle cell lymphoma and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.

William Hait, global therapeutic head of oncology for Janssen, said: "The agreement with Pharmacyclics is an opportunity to bring a new form of oral therapy to patients with B-cell malignancies. PCI-32765 is an innovative compound, with broad applicability and the potential to help a large number of patients with B-cell malignancies."

Pharmacyclics will receive up to $975m for the deal, including an upfront payment of $150m and further development and regulatory milestone payments worth up to $825m.

In return Janssen and Pharmacyclics will split profits equally and share development and commercialisation costs.

Each company will take the lead on development for specific indications, with development costs shared on a 40 per cent (Pharmacyclics) to 60 per cent (Janssen) basis.

PCI-32765 is a small molecule that works by inhibiting the Bruton's tyrosine kinase (Btk), an essential element of the B-cell antigen receptor (BCR) signalling pathway.

BCR signalling is a critical pathway required for tumour expansion and proliferation, and PCI-32765 exerts its anti-tumour function by blocking BCR signalling and thereby inducing cell death.

The companies will collaborate on the development of PCI-32765 for oncology and other indications but their agreement does not include the drug's potential use to treat inflammation or immune mediated conditions.

9th December 2011

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