Ireland's Elan Corp has inked a deal with Ingenium Pharmaceuticals of Germany that will see the companies apply Ingenium's functional genomics technologies to the discovery and development of novel therapeutics for pain management, one of Elan's core therapeutic categories.
The deal marks a return by Elan to partnering after a fire sale of assets over the last year.
Elan was built up during the 1990s on the back of a prolonged period of acquisitions and partnering deals, but has been forced to back-track over the last 12 months, selling off assets to raise around €1.4 billion in cash as it copes with major debts, including around €752 million due by year-end. The disposals have included its entire primary care franchise (sold to King Pharmaceuticals of the USA for $850 million) and co-development and marketing rights to several pipeline drugs.
Added to this has been the indignity of a US Securities and Exchange Commission probe into Elan's accounting practices and, more recently, a Federal Trade Commission enquiry that may have put the sale of the primary care business in jeopardy.
Elan's president and chief executive, Kelly Martin, noted: "As we restore Elan to financial health, we are committed to building a world-class R&D pipeline. Today's strategic alliance represents further investment in the science of managing pain." Martin continued:"Through this investment and other planned investments in our core business, we are addressing the future growth component of Elan's recovery plan."
The project will be funded to the tune of €9.4 million over an initial four-year period, with Ingenium contracted to receive up to €38 million in additional payments should certain clinical milestones be achieved. These milestones are contingent on the identification of a clinical candidate, the initiation of human clinical trials, the submission of first marketing applications and the approval of a product in the USA, Europe and Asia.
On approval, Elan will be responsible for global commercialisation of products developed, although Ingenium has retained an option on co-development and co-commercialisation.
Ingenium brings to the collaboration a broad set of functional genomics technologies, including its Deductive Genomics approach that allows for the rapid identification and cloning of novel molecular targets implicated in molecular mechanisms underlying the control of pain. Elan will screen against the newly discovered and biologically-validated drug targets in order to identify and develop novel therapeutics for the treatment of pain.
The Irish group already sells a number of pain-management products and has more in late-stage clinical testing.