News Feature | June 16, 2014

AstraZeneca Buys Synairgen Asthma Drug For $7.25M

By Estel Grace Masangkay

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AstraZeneca announced that it has signed into a global license agreement with Synairgen, a pharmaceutical company focused on respiratory disease, to buy SNG001, a novel immuno-modulatory therapy for viral-induced exacerbation in asthma.

SNG001 is an inhaled interferon beta (IFN-beta) undergoing clinical development for treating respiratory tract viral infections in patients with severe asthma. The drug possesses a broad spectrum anti-viral effect and works by delivering IFN-beta to the lungs at the onset of an infection. This helps boost anti-viral defense and fight the spread of virus in the lungs.

As part of the exclusive license agreement, Synairgen will receive an upfront payment of $7.25 million from AstraZeneca as well as potential development, regulatory, and commercial milestones of up to $225 million. The company is also eligible to receive tiered royalties on commercial sales from AstraZeneca, which will shoulder future development costs.

Maarten Kraan, Head of Respiratory, Inflammation & Autoimmune Innovative Medicines at AstraZeneca, said, “Respiratory disease is a core therapeutic area for AstraZeneca, and a key growth platform for the company… SNG001 is an innovative and targeted therapy that has, if successful, the potential to offer a step-change in the treatment of severe asthma, and possibly COPD.”

Respiratory viruses aggravate symptoms of patients with asthma and COPD. A deficiency in the ability to produce IFN-beta in the lungs is considered to cause increased vulnerability to viral infections in pulmonary disease patients, for which there are currently no approved treatments.

Richard Marsden, Synairgen CEO, said, “We're delighted that this truly innovative program, discovered at the University of Southampton and developed by Synairgen, will be taken forward by AstraZeneca. With its strong research focus and extensive experience in respiratory disease, AstraZeneca's commitment to developing novel medicines for patients with asthma and COPD makes them the ideal partner for SNG001.”

Supported by results from an initial Phase IIA study, AZ will launch a Phase IIA study for the drug in patients with severe asthma in early 2015.