Starpharma signs drug delivery licence with AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca to use of DEP drug delivery platform in the development and commercialisation of an oncology compound with potential for follow on compounds directed at a defined family of targets

Starpharma, a world leader in the development of dendrimer products, has signed a licensing agreement with AstraZeneca that enables the development and commercialisation by AstraZeneca of compounds directed at a defined family of targets using Starpharma’s DEP drug delivery technology. The DEP platform centres on use of Starpharma’s proprietary dendrimers, with the aim of enhancing the dosing and efficacy characteristics of pharmaceuticals.

Under the agreement Starpharma is eligible to receive signature and milestone payments on one or more AstraZeneca DEP products if they progress through the development pipeline, and milestone and royalty payments on any net sales of the resultant products. AstraZeneca will fund all development and commercialisation costs under the agreement, including ongoing and future collaborative work conducted with Starpharma.

A signature payment of US$2m (A$2.9m) became payable on execution of the agreement. For the initial product, development and launch milestones could total up to $64m (A$91m), and sales milestones based on specified annual sales levels could total up to $60m (A$86m). The licence agreement allows for additional products to be incorporated, with development and regulatory milestone payments of up to $53.3m (A$76m), and potential sales milestones based on specified annual sales levels for qualifying additional products could total up to $40m (A$57m). Any AstraZeneca DEP products would also attract tiered royalties on net sales.

'Today’s agreement with AstraZeneca is an exciting development for Starpharma and its DEP platform. It follows a successful collaboration in which Starpharma’s DEP drug delivery technology has been applied to an important AstraZeneca oncology candidate,' said Dr Jackie Fairley, Starpharma CEO. 'The agreement clearly illustrates both the commercial potential and platform nature of Starpharma’s DEP drug delivery technology. The fact that this deal is structured for multiple products underlines the real potential for additional upside for both companies.'

Starpharma’s DEP technology is used to improve the performance of pharmaceuticals. Both pre-clinical and early clinical data have shown DEP versions of drugs to be superior in a variety of ways to the unmodified drugs in currently marketed formulations. Pre-clinical studies of DEP conjugates with a number of different cancer drugs have already established improved efficacy and reduced toxicities compared with marketed versions. Starpharma’s licensing agreement with AstraZeneca focuses on novel compounds, and not on unmodified drugs in currently marketed formulations.

Susan Galbraith, Head of the Oncology Innovative Medicines Unit at AstraZeneca, said: 'We already have a long-standing and successful working relationship with Starpharma. This licence agreement will enable us to further harness the DEP technology and evaluate its potential across novel molecules within our oncology portfolio.'

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