AstraZeneca announced a strategic collaboration in respiratory diseases with Pieris Pharmaceuticals to develop novel inhaled drugs that leverage Pieris’ Anticalin platform. Anticalin molecules are engineered proteins which can mimic antibodies by binding to sites either on other proteins or on small molecules. They are smaller than monoclonal antibodies, offering the potential of direct delivery to the lung.
Under the collaboration, Pieris will be responsible for advancing its preclinical lead candidate, PRS-060 into phase I clinical trials in 2017. PRS-060 is an Anticalin against interleukin-4 receptor alpha (IL-4Ra) with potential in asthma. AstraZeneca will fund all clinical development and subsequent commercialisation programmes and Pieris has the option of co-development and co-commercialisation in the U.S. from phase IIa onwards. In addition, the parties will collaborate to progress four additional novel Anticalins against undisclosed targets for respiratory disease.
Mene Pangalos, executive vice president, Innovative Medicines and Early Development Biotech Unit and Business Development, said, “At AstraZeneca, discovering and developing innovative new medicines to treat respiratory disease is a key strategic priority. Our alliance with Pieris adds an important new modality to our respiratory portfolio and builds on our scientific expertise in inhaled formulation technologies. Pieris shares our passion for ground-breaking science and we look forward to working together to develop new, life-changing treatment options for patients.”
Stephen Yoder, president and chief executive officer of Pieris, said, “Our partnership with AstraZeneca accelerates the transformation of Pieris into a fully-integrated drug development and commercial organisation, comprising two main pillars in immunology: respiratory disease and immuno-oncology, each of which is now anchored by a major alliance. We recognize AstraZeneca’s unparalleled expertise in the development of inhaled drugs, which will maximize the potential of PRS-060 and other inhaled Anticalin molecules to become valuable assets for both companies.”
AstraZeneca will make upfront and near-term milestone payments to Pieris in the amount of $57.5 million. Pieris has the potential to receive development-dependent milestones and eventual commercial payments for all products not exceeding $2.1 billion as well as tiered royalties on the sales of any potential products commercialized by AstraZeneca.