January 01, 2006

Targacept and Astra Zeneca Agreement

It was announced this past week that Targacept and AstraZeneca have entered into an exclusive global license and research collaboration agreement for the development and commercialization of Targacept's new drug compound TC-1734 (part of the family of drugs including TC-1827) to treat cognitive deficits in schizophrenia (and Alzheimers) and other cognitive disorders.

The new drug candidate is targeting similar brain receptors that are believed to be triggered by nicotine use (click here for more Nicotine and Schizophrenia news); TC-1734 is designed to act selectively on neuronal nicotinic receptors, a class of receptors that serve as key regulators of central nervous system activity.

Upon effectiveness of the agreement, Targacept will receive an initial payment of $10 million from AstraZeneca, the parties will begin the research collaboration and AstraZeneca will initiate additional safety and product characterization studies of TC-1734. A determination by AstraZeneca to conduct Phase II clinical development of TC-1734 following completion of the safety and product characterization studies would trigger an additional milestone payment of $20 million to Targacept, in addition to approximately $26 million in funding over the research term.

London-based AstraZeneca intends to start additional safety and product characterization studies of TC-1734. Following that, it could decide to move into Phase II development for Alzheimer's disease, cognitive deficits in schizophrenia or a related indication, triggering the milestone payment to Targacept.

AstraZeneca also would be responsible for development and commercialization of compounds that come out of the research collaboration. Targacept intends to use its Pentad drug discovery technology as part of that research. Each discovered drug that enters development would trigger additional milestone payments to Targacept, which also would receive royalties on those that reach the market.

If any of the compounds, including TC-1734, reach commercialization, Targacept has a co-promotion option for the U.S. market, but the company has not yet disclosed whether it plans to build its own sales force.

TC-1734 has shown neuroprotective properties in preclinical studies, deBethizy said. "Its primary focus is symptomatic treatment, but it also offers the potential for disease modification if the preclinical data we have translates into clinical results."

The compound could address what the company called a "wide-open market" of people with cognitive deficits in schizophrenia. "Scientists estimate that 75 percent of the 9 million schizophrenics worldwide have cognitive deficits, and there is no approved therapy," deBethizy said.

Source: Targacept Press/Marketing Release

To learn more about new medications for schizophrenia that are currently in development see the following special report:
New Schizophrenia Medications in Development


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