Evotec (ETR:EVT) said today that it inked a 5-year drug discovery and development deal with Celgene (NSDQ:CELG) to identify stem cell therapies for a range of neurodegenerative diseases including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
According to the agreement, Hamburg, Germany-based Evotec will receive an upfront payment of $45 million and Celgene will hold exclusive worldwide licensing rights to Evotec programs developed from the company’s compound library. Evotec could also receive up to $250 million in milestones and low double-digit royalties on in-licensed programs.
“We are very excited about the opportunity to collaborate with Celgene, a medical innovation leader in the industry,” Evotec CEO Werner Lanthaler said in prepared remarks. “Celgene perfectly complements and accelerates our business model and vision in bringing first-in-class therapeutics to patients with neurodegenerative diseases, where the burden for society is increasing dramatically.”
Evotec’s induced pluripotent stem cell platform was developed over 5 years in collaboration with Harvard University and was designed to industrialize iPSC-based drug screening.
“We are very pleased to enter into our 1st neurodegeneration collaboration with Evotec and look forward to the screening of their compound libraries using their proprietary iPSC platform,” Celgene executive VP & president of research & early development Rupert Vessey said. “Recent breakthroughs in our understanding of the mechanism of action of the CELMoD(R) library may enable the discovery of other related compounds that can direct the degradation of proteins known to be neurotoxic. Screening for this activity in highly controlled cell-based screens developed by Evotec represents an excellent initial approach for drug discovery in neurodegenerative disorders.”
“The fact that many promising drug candidates fail during clinical development highlights the limited predictive and translational value of pre-clinical disease models commonly used during the drug discovery process,” Evotec chief scientific officer Cord Dohrmann added. “This is particularly true for neurodegenerative diseases, a field that has proven intractable as novel therapeutics for Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and motor neuron disease have largely failed. The use of patient-derived disease models for drug screening represents a paradigm shift as it places the testing of human disease relevance at the front end of the drug discovery process and is expected to lead to the discovery of more disease-relevant drug candidates but also more focused clinical development paths.”