UK-based biotechnology firm Autifony Therapeutics has entered an agreement with Boehringer Ingelheim regarding select aspects of its Kv3.1/3.2 voltage-gated potassium channel modulator platform.

In line with Boehringer’s drug discovery strategy for neuropsychiatric diseases, the collaboration provides the firm with an option to acquire the platform to treat serious CNS disorders.

Autifony is set to receive an upfront payment of €25m, with possible payments of up to €17.5m during the option period, depending on short-term milestones.

After Boehringer has exercised its option, the potential transaction is expected to total up to €627.5m upon achieving development and pre-commercialisation milestones.

The agreement also involves Autifony’s oral small molecule called AUT00206 being developed in two Phase Ib clinical trials, including one for schizophrenia.

“This partnership opens up the possibility of testing clinically an unprecedented therapeutic concept for the treatment of schizophrenia.”

Boehringer Ingelheim CNS and Immunology therapeutic area head Dr Jan Poth said: “This partnership opens up the possibility of testing clinically an unprecedented therapeutic concept for the treatment of schizophrenia and to develop novel compounds with significant value to the patient.

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“Schizophrenia is a challenging indication for drug development, and the companies’ commitment and combined expertise will accelerate progress towards a much-needed new medicine for patients with this serious disorder.”

The firms intend to investigate the mechanism of Kv3.1/3.2 platform for various additional indications such as hearing disorders and orphan CNS disorders, including Fragile X syndrome.

Autifony Therapeutics CEO Dr Charles Large said: “Our compounds have the potential to change the treatment paradigm for these disorders, and we welcome the opportunity to collaborate with Boehringer Ingelheim, who will bring valuable expertise and resources as we progress through the next phases of clinical and non-clinical development.”