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Found in translation: BI collaboration may net TransTech $54 million
HIGH POINT, N.C.—TransTech Pharma Inc. now has a worldwide research and license collaboration with Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH using TransTech's proprietary TTP Translational Technology. Under the terms of the agreement, which was finalized the end of last year, Boehringer Ingelheim has the exclusive right to develop and commercialize all compounds directed at the target covered by the collaboration.
The deal has a potential value of $54 million, with TransTech receiving an up-front payment, research support and payments upon the achievement of specified research, clinical and commercialization milestones. In addition, TransTech would receive royalties on future product sales. No details about the work are being released as yet, except that the aim of the collaboration is to discover and develop novel small molecules as therapeutics against an undisclosed biological target.
TransTech's TTP Translational Technology is an automated, integrated drug discovery process that uses proprietary software modules. The technology already has shown value against a wide range of biological targets, including protein-protein interactions, receptor modulators and enzyme inhibitors, and delivered small-molecule-based preclinical and clinical drug candidates for the treatment of diabetes, cancer, inflammation, Alzheimer's disease and thrombosis.
"Boehringer Ingelheim Research recognizes the importance of collaborating with specialized biotech companies to discover new lead chemical structures against challenging biological targets," says Mikael Dolsten, head corporate division pharma research for Boehringer Ingelheim. "The alliance with TransTech Pharma provides an innovative lead-finding technology to be combined with Boehringer Ingelheim's strength in drug discovery."
Dr. Adnan Mjalli, founder, president and CEO of TransTech, looks forward to coupling Boehringer Ingelheim's development capabilities with his own company's discovery engine, TTP Translational Technology, which he predicts will be "a powerful combination [that will] result in the expedited discovery of novel, safe and effective clinical drug candidates."
A deal like this isn't particularly surprising or unusual from TransTech's point of view, according to Steven Ireland, the company's senior vice president of business development. "This is comparable to the size of deals we do for an early-stage discovery program, and we tend to do, on average, one deal per year with a big company like this."
Ireland didn't release specific details about the value of previous deals, though collaborations since 2001 have included such companies as Novo Nordisk, SIGA and Cephalon. Prior to Boehringer Ingelheim, TransTech teamed with Merck in fall 2004 on a drug discovery collaboration valued at $26 million.
"What we really bring to the table for Boehringer is that we have novel platform technology that allows us to explore interesting biological targets that have been recalcitrant to other technologies," Ireland says. "And we have a reputation for the speed with which we can go from knowledge of a target to a preclinical candidate. We've demonstrated that twice with internal programs that are in phase 1 and phase 2 trials, and with collaborative efforts as well."
Although TransTech routinely agrees not to pursue targets for itself or other companies that it has explored as part of a collaborative agreement—so long as the original company is still generating compounds for that target—Ireland predicts that the work with Boehringer Ingelheim will have short- and long-term beneficial effects on internal drug discovery efforts and future collaborations.
"Any time we do discovery research, we always learn something new about biological and screening technique that could be employed with future targets," he notes.