Bristol-Myers Squibb has filed an Investigational New Drug application in the US seeking approval to start clinical trials of an orally-active p38 MAP (mitogen-activated protein) kinase inhibitor. The drug, which is a potential treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, was discovered in collaboration with Pharmacopeia.
The filing of the IND triggers a milestone payment to Pharmacopeia and it will also be entitled to additional milestone payments if the program progresses, as well as royalties on commercial sales of any products that result from this collaboration.
p38 kinase inhibitors are thought to exert their therapeutic effects in rheumatoid arthritis by inhibiting the activity of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as tumour necrosis factor-alpha and interleukin-1 beta.
A number of other companies have been working on the development of this class, including Vertex Pharmaceuticals and Kissei, which took a lead compound (VX-745) into Phase II before dropping it from development on toxicity grounds. Other players include Scios (with SCIO-469 in Phase II), Johnson & Johnson, SangStat, Aventis, GlaxoSmithKline and Bayer.