Theravance Biopharma is teaming up with Janssen Biotech to develop a group of drugs for intestinal diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s.
Dublin, Ireland based-Theravance Biopharma (NASDAQ: TBPH), which has U.S. operations in South San Francisco, CA, will receive $100 million up front in the deal. The company could gain up to $900 million more if it hits a variety of milestones with experimental intestinal drug TD-1473 and other compounds.
Theravance will take TD-1473 through Phase 2 studies for ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s. At that point, if Janssen, a Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) subsidiary, decides to continue the collaboration, it would shoulder the majority of the costs to take the drug through late-stage clinical trials. Should TD-1473 hit the market, the partners will split U.S. profits, while Janssen gets rights to the drug everywhere else. Theravance would receive royalties from sales outside of the U.S.
TD-1473 blocks enzymes called janus kinases (JAK), which are known to play a role in inflammation. There are a few FDA approved JAK inhibitors already, among them the myelofibrosis drug ruxolitinib (Jakafi) and the psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis drug tofactinib (Xeljanz), and several others in clinical testing for cancer, inflammatory diseases, skin conditions, and more. Theravance says unlike other JAK inhibitors in clinical development, TD-1473 is designed to work directly at the site of intestinal inflammation, a targeted approach meant to limit the drug’s exposure to the rest of the body. Theravance plans to start a Phase 2b/3 study in ulcerative colitis later this year.