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Neurocrine and GlaxoSmithkline create collaboration for Crf receptor antagonists.

Neurocrine Biosciences (San Diego, CA; 858-658-7600) and GlaxoSmithKline (Philadelphia, PA; 215-751-7709) announced that the two companies signed a worldwide research, development and com-mercialization agree-ment for Corticotropin Releas-ing Factor Receptor Antagonists (CRF-R1 and CRF-R2), an entirely new class of compounds to treat psychiatric, neurological and gastrointestinal diseas-es including anxiety, depression and irritable bowel syndrome. Neurocrine's CRF-R1 Antagonist, NBI 34041, is currently in Phase I develop-ment for anxiety and depression.

Under the terms of the agreement, Neurocrine and GlaxoSmithKline will conduct a collaborative research program for up to five years to identify and develop CRF-R antagonist compounds. The collaboration also includes worldwide development and commercialization of NBI-34041 as well as back-up candidates resulting from the joint research program. Neurocrine will receive upfront fees and early milestone payments totaling $25.5 million and annual fees. In addition, Neurocrine is eligible to receive milestone payments as compounds progress through the research and development process, royalties on any future product sales and co-promotion rights in the United States. Although financial terms have not been disclosed the total collaborative value makes it the largest collaboration in Neurocrine's history.

GlaxoSmithKline is an ideal partner with their leadership position in the antidepressant field and with their exten-sive experience in the development and commercializa-tion of treatments for CNS and gastrointestinal diseases," said Gary A. Lyons, President and CEO of Neurocrine Biosciences. "Combining our broad CRF portfolio together with GlaxoSmithKline's research and develop-ment and commercial expertise we are enhancing our abilities to maximize the novel area of CRF-R1 and CRF-R2 antagonists as potential thera-peutics for the treatment of some of the major diseases in CNS and related areas."

"In addition to advancing Neurocrine's current proprietary CRF-R antagonists through development, the collabora-tion will exploit the combined knowledge and under-standing of several novel chemical series in both companies from which additional candidates will be selected," said John Saunders, Vice President Research (Chemistry) for Neurocrine Biosciences. "The collabora-tion will also focus on the identification of potent CRF-R2 antagonists to determine their therapeutic utility in a variety of psychiatric and metabolic conditions. By combining GlaxoSmithKline's vast experience in genomics and CNS/GI small molecule development with Neurocrine's expertise in CRF biology and chemistry, we are confident that we will maintain our worldwide leadership position in this very exciting area."

"We are delighted that Neurocrine Biosciences and GSK have entered into this collaboration. We are confident that by combining our expertise in CRF receptors and CNS/GI drug discovery and development we can make a unique, world class contribution to this exciting area of research. This collaboration is a great example of how to make the best use of the two companies strengths and assets to provide real synergy. The novel area of CRF R antagonists have the potential to broaden our under-standing of major CNS disorders with the eventual goal of the development of novel therapeutics," said Emiliangelo Ratti, Senior VP, Psychiatry Center of Excellence in Drug Discovery, GSK.

Neurocrine Biosciences is a product-based biopharma-ceutical company focused on neurological and endocrine diseases and disorders. Our product candidates address some of the largest pharmaceutical markets in the world including insomnia, anxiety, depression, malignant brain tumors and peripheral cancer, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, irritable bowel syndrome, eating disorders, pain and stroke and certain female health disorders.

In March 2001 Neurocrine announced the results of a Phase I clinical trial with a CRF antagonist for the treatment of depression and anxiety. This Phase I, randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled, single-dose trial was conducted in 48 normal healthy volunteers to evaluate the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics, and pharmacodynamics, including endocrine profiles, over a range of six escalating doses. Initial pharmacokinetic evaluation indicates rapid absorption and good dose-proportionality, plasma half-lives and good safety profile. Neurocrine is currently preparing this compound for a multiple dose clinical trial in 24 subjects to further evaluate the safety and pharmacokinetic and endocrine profiles of the drug. Neurocrine is also advancing multiple back up compounds through preclinical develop-ment for future clinical evaluation.

Dr. Wylie Vale, Neurocrine co-founder, first identified and cloned the CRF receptor along with his colleagues at the Salk Institute. CRF functions as a neurotransmitter in the brain and plays a critical role in coordinating the body's response to stress. The CRF-R1 receptor subtype largely mediates these effects. In preclinical models, selective CRF-R1 receptor antagonists block stress-related responses providing further evidence that this novel mechanism may result in improved anti-anxiety and anti-depressant properties. Neurocrine scientists were the first to isolate a second CRF receptor, called CRF-R2. The distribution of CRF-R2 in the brain suggests that CRF-R2 could play a role in some forms of anxiety and eating disorders. Neurocrine researchers have demonstrated that administration of a CRF-R2 antagonist reduces measures of anxiety in studies of obsessive-compulsive disorder and conditioned fear.
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Comment:Neurocrine and GlaxoSmithkline create collaboration for Crf receptor antagonists.
Publication:BIOTECH Patent News
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2001
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