Drug Research
Drug Discovery & Development

AstraZeneca, Pieris form $2.1bn respiratory drug collaboration

PBR Staff Writer Published 04 May 2017

AstraZeneca will develop new inhaled respiratory treatments based on Pieris Pharmaceuticals’ Anticalin platform through a collaboration that could generate more than $2bn for the US firm.

Under the deal terms, Boston-based Pieris will receive $57.5m of upfront and near-term milestone payments from AstraZeneca.

Pieris will advance its lead candidate, PRS-060, an anticalin against interleukin-4 receptor alpha (IL-4Ra) with potential in asthma, into phase 1 clinical trials this year.

It will also be entitled to get development-dependent milestones and eventual commercial payments for all products not exceeding $2.1bn from AstraZeneca.

Besides, Pieris would receive tiered royalties on the sales of any potential products commercialised by the UK-based pharma giant.

The funding needed for all the clinical development and the commercialisation programmes that would follow will be taken care by AstraZeneca.

AstraZeneca Innovative Medicines and Early Development Biotech Unit and Business Development executive vice president Mene Pangalos 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.”

From Phase IIa of PRS-060, Pieris will have the option of joint development and commercialization with AstraZeneca in the US.

Apart from that, the partners will work together to advance four additional novel anticalins targeted at undisclosed targets for respiratory disease treatments.

Pieris president and CEO Stephen Yoder 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.”

According to AstraZeneca, anticalin molecules are engineered proteins having the ability to mimic antibodies. This, they do by binding to sites on other proteins or on tiny molecules.

Anticalins are smaller compared to monoclonal antibodies and are claimed to have the potential being delivered directly to the lung.

Image: Pieris’ lead candidate PRS-060 to be co-developed with AstraZeneca has potential to treat asthma. Photo: courtesy of AstraZeneca.