ASLAN Pharmaceuticals and Zenyaku Kogyo have entered a strategic licensing deal for ASLAN’s eblasakimab in Japan.

Zenyaku Kogyo will handle the development and commercialisation activities of eblasakimab to treat atopic dermatitis (AD).

The company also intends to commence a Phase I trial of the drug in the country during the first half of 2024.

Eblasakimab is a potential first-in-class monoclonal antibody that targets the IL-13 receptor subunit of the Type 2 receptor, a critical pathway that drives many allergic inflammatory diseases.

It prevents signalling through interleukin 4 (IL‑4) and interleukin 13 (IL‑13), both key drivers of inflammation in AD, by blocking the Type 2 receptor.

ASLAN Pharmaceuticals will receive a $12m upfront payment and a $3m additional payment from Zenyaku Kogyo.

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The company will also receive a $123.5m additional payment based on development and commercial milestones, and tiered royalties on sales of the product.

ASLAN Pharmaceuticals CEO Dr Carl Firth stated: “The burden of AD is significant and growing in Japan – there are five million people living with the disease and millions more who live with other type 2-driven diseases.

“As we approach late-stage development of eblasakimab globally, it was important for us to identify a partner like Zenyaku who can apply its experience to accelerate the development of eblasakimab in Japan.”

The company will retain an option which can be exercised to re-acquire the rights to the therapy in the country at any time in the future.