Oncodesign and Ipsen are to jointly research novel treatments for Parkinson's disease, collaborating on therapeutic agents that inhibit the LRRK2 protein, mutations of which increase the risk of genetically inherited Parkinson's.
Under the terms of their deal France-based Oncodesign, which has built its business to date on the preclinical assessment of anti-cancer therapies, will give Ipsen two options to exclusively license its LRRK2 inhibitor programme.
Ipsen will also gain worldwide development, manufacturing and commercialisation rights to any therapies developed as part of the programme.
In return, Oncodesign will be in line for an upfront payment, R&D funding and various milestones of up to €115m, as well as royalties on sales of any treatments that come to market.
The LRRK2 programme makes use of Oncodesign's Nanocyclix, medicinal chemistry technology that develops small chemical molecules that give access to potent and highly selective small molecule kinase inhibitors that have previously been unexplored.
LRRK2 inhibitors can be used to tackle Parkinson's, although the technology has potential in multiple therapeutic areas, according to Oncodesign.
Claude Bertrand, Ipsen's executive VP, R&D and chief scientific officer said the deal was in line with Ipsen's new strategy to increase its investment in R&D with external partners for compounds outside its usual focus of peptides and toxins.
Bertrand also explained why Parkinson's was chosen as one of the first areas to research as part of the strategy.
“In the field of neurology and movement disorders, Parkinson's disease is a serious condition with high unmet medical needs where patients are seeking improved care and quality of life.
“Today, there is no treatment targeting the underlying pathogenetic mechanism leading to progressive deterioration in those patients,” he said.
Dr Philippe Genne, CEO of Oncodesign, also described the deal as part of a new direction for his company.
He said: “This agreement advances our strategy to partner on drug discovery activities in addition to our well known preclinical evaluation service activities in advanced oncology pharmacology.”