Biogen recently announced an agreement with Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation (MTPC), a research-driven pharmaceutical company based in Japan, to exclusively license the company’s experimental product MT-1303. The product is a late stage experimental oral compound developed as a therapy for several autoimmune conditions.
MT-1303 is a sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P) receptor antagonist that inhibits the receptor function on lymphocytes (an important type of white blood cells). MT-1303 action results in the sequestration of lymphocytes in the lymph nodes preventing them from participating and contributing to autoimmune reactions. The compound is currently being evaluated in clinical trials for diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS), inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, among other autoimmune conditions.
“Based on compelling efficacy and safety data, we believe that MT-1303 could be a best-in-class S1P modulator,” said the group senior vice president and chief medical officer at Biogen Dr. Alfred Sandrock in a press release. “There is a great need for effective oral therapies for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease and other autoimmune indications, and we are excited to strengthen our late-stage pipeline with this next-generation oral investigational therapy.”
According to the agreement, Biogen will be given worldwide exclusive rights over MT-1303, excluding Asia, and will be responsible for its global commercialization and development costs outside Asian territories. Biogen will pay MTPC $60 million, and subsequently up to $484 million in additional milestone payments. MTPC will also receive royalties from Biogen according to the sales volume.
Regarding MS, MT-1303 has yielded promising results in a Phase 2 clinical trial and Biogen is currently planning a rapid development program for this potential MS therapeutic agent.
MS is a chronic, progressive neurodegenerative disorder that results from the attack to the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord and optical nerves) by the body’s own immune system resulting in motor function impairment (coordination, balance, speech and vision), irreversible neurological disability and paralysis. Most MS patients experience their first symptom between 20 and 40 years of age and it is estimated that more than 2.3 million people in the world suffer from the disease. There is currently no cure for MS.