| Monday, June 13, 2011|
By James M. Connolly
Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. of Cambridge and Alios BioPharma Inc. of South San Francisco, Calif., have announced a deal under which Vertex will license two Alios compounds designed to be inhibitors of the hepatitis C virus polymerase enzyme.
With the deal, Vertex said it has multiple opportunities to develop new, all-oral combination regimens for chronic hepatitis C. Vertex expects the nucleotide drug candidates, ALS-2200 and ALS-2158, to enter clinical development later this year.
In return for Vertex gaining worldwide rights to the hepatitis C drug candidates, Alios gets a $60 million upfront payment and research and development costs of ALS-2200 and ALS-2158 covered by Vertex. The Cambridge pharmaceutical firm could pay up to $715 million in R&D milestone payments if both drugs are approved, and up to $750 million more if both drug candidates then meet sales milestones.
The announcement came just weeks after Vertex won approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its hepatitis C drug, Incivek.
“The recent approval of Incivek was a milestone in hepatitis C care, and today’s announcement underscores our long-term commitment to further improving the treatment of this disease with new combinations of medicines,” said Peter Mueller, Ph.D., chief scientific officer and executive vice resident of global research and development at Vertex in a press release. “Alios has discovered anti-HCV nucleotides that have the potential to be leading agents in hepatitis C. Based on impressive in vitro data, we look forward to evaluating ALS-2200 and ALS-2158 together and in combination with our approved and investigational hepatitis C medicines with the goal of creating a highly potent all-oral regimen in the years ahead.”
Approval of Incivek also spurred Vertex to sign a lease for a new headquarters in Boston’s waterfront innovation district.