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Heart-felt matchup
January 2007
by Jeffrey Bouley  |  Email the author


SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO—Cytokinetics Inc. will collaborate with Thousand Oaks, Calif.-based  Amgen to discover, develop and commercialize novel small-molecule therapeutics that activate cardiac muscle contractility for potential applications in the treatment of heart failure. The collaboration covers markets worldwide, with the exception of Japan. Under the terms of the deal, Cytokinetics receives a non-refundable up-front license and technology access fee of $42 million. In addition, Amgen has purchased nearly 3.5 million shares of Cytokinetics common stock at $9.47 per share and an aggregate purchase price of approximately $33 million. As part of the deal, Amgen also secured an option to participate in future development and commercialization of Cytokinetics' lead drug candidate arising from its cardiac muscle contractility program. The lead candidate, CK-1827452, recently completed two Phase 1 clinical trials. "We've been working in this field of research for about eight years, and what Amgen is doing in this collaboration is investing in that research that already has been done, which allows for expanded work we might not have been able to do otherwise," says Robert I. Blum, president of Cytokinetics. "We have a large number of compounds that are cardiac myocin activators and will be looking to optimize and characterize them in concert with Amgen, looking for compounds that are chemically distinct and mechanistically similar, or chemically distinct and mechanistically dissimilar." "One of our key goals here is to really augment work we've already been doing as we risk-mitigate around the compound currently in clinical trials," he adds. Joint research activities will focus on identifying and characterizing activators of cardiac myosin as potential backup and follow-on drug candidates to CK-1827452. During the initial two year research term, Cytokinetics will continue to shoulder the cost of research, as well as funding all development activities for CK-1827452. However, if CK-1827452  meets pre-defined criteria in Phase 2a clinical trials, Amgen could exercise an option to pay a non-refundable exercise fee of $50 million. Upon so doing, Amgen would thereafter be responsible for development and commercialization of CK-1827452 and related compounds, at its expense, subject to development and commercial participation rights of Cytokinetics. In addition, Cytokinetics is potentially eligible for pre-commercialization and commercialization milestone payments of as much as $600 million on CK-1827452 and other products arising from the research, in addition to royalties. "Both companies have built their business on first-in-class mechanism new drugs," Blum notes, saying that the deal only came together after several years of discussions between the two companies. "Neither company has been working in areas that have been competitive with each other or where we are a fast-follower. With both our companies, we're known for pioneering new mechanisms for compounds, so we're very aligned philosophically in terms of taking risks and realizing that rewards of that risk."
Code: E010718



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