The deal is to focus on Predix's preclinical-stage S1P1 agonists, which are selective for S1P1 over other S1P receptors and many other GPCRs. This may potentially provide an improved side effect profile in the clinic compared to currently available immunosuppressive drugs.
Autoimmune diseases can each affect the body in different ways. For instance, the autoimmune reaction is directed against the brain in multiple sclerosis and the intestines or gastrointestinal tract in Crohn's disease.
In other diseases, such as lupus, affected tissues and organs may vary among individuals with the same disease.
Under the terms of the agreement, Predix and Amgen will collaborate on the development of existing Predix preclinical compounds and new S1P1 modulators.
Amgen will be responsible for clinical development and commercialisation of the product candidate(s). Predix will receive an upfront payment of $20m.
Additionally, if certain clinical, regulatory and sales milestones are achieved, Predix can earn up to an additional $287.5m in milestone payments.
"This collaboration provides Predix with the option to transform into a fully integrated pharmaceutical company by exercising our co-promote option with Amgen," said Chen Schor, chief business officer of Predix.
"This deal comes as we are in the process of finalizing our merger with EPIX and will further enable the combined company to pursue this research program along with our other development programs."
Further terms of the agreement will see Predix have the opportunity to receive potential royalties on future sales of products resulting from this collaboration.
Additonally, Predix will have the option to promote a product resulting from this collaboration to specialty physicians in the US for a selected indication.
"The goal of this collaboration is to leverage both Amgen's and Predix's expertise in autoimmune research," said Sharon Shacham, vice president of preclinical development at Predix.
"We believe that combining Predix's S1P1 program with Amgen's assets and capabilities will lead to new therapies that will more effectively treat a variety of autoimmune disorders."
S1P1 is one of at least five different GPCRs that are activated by the phospholipid Sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P).
These GPCRs play a role in multiple biological processes, including immune system activation and cardiovascular function. Compounds, which activate the S1P1 receptor, called S1P1 agonists, have been shown to induce peripheral lymphopenia, which is a reduction in circulating lymphocytes in the blood.
Instead of inactivating lymphocytes and hampering the immune response entirely like conventional immunosuppressive drugs, S1P1 agonists appear to work by temporarily maintaining lymphocytes in the lymphatic system (e.g., lymph nodes).
This mechanism of action has been suggested to be beneficial in a variety of autoimmune disorders, such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and rejection of transplanted organs.