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C4X Discovery (C4XD) and AstraZeneca have entered an exclusive global licensing agreement worth up to $402m to develop oral therapy to treat inflammatory and respiratory ailments.

The deal has been signed to develop the C4X NRF2 Activator programme for these ailments. 

Under the agreement, AstraZeneca will be responsible for the development and marketing of oral therapy for inflammatory and respiratory diseases with a key focus on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

According to the deal, C4XD is entitled to get up to $16m in pre-clinical milestone payments before the commencement of the first clinical trial. 

This includes an upfront payment of $2m from AstraZeneca. 

Additionally, AstraZeneca will make a potential payment of $385.8m on meeting clinical development and commercial milestones in the future, in addition to tiered royalty payments, upon the marketing of the product.

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By GlobalData

The latest agreement is said to further validate the scientific capabilities and approach of C4XD through a third deal with a key pharmaceutical firm.

The company’s lead molecules in the oral NRF2 Activator programme have been demonstrated to substantially activate NRF2 on dosing orally, offering anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity.

A key natural regulator, NRF2 controls antioxidant genes’ expression. It is crucial in cellular defence against external insults and inflammatory response regulation. 

AstraZeneca BioPharmaceuticals R&D executive vice-president Mene Pangalos said: “At AstraZeneca, we are committed to transforming care in respiratory and immune-mediated disease and moving beyond symptom control. 

“Our alliance with C4XD adds an important new asset to our portfolio to push the boundaries of science by targeting underlying disease drivers to potentially modify the course of these diseases.”

In April last year, C4XD signed an exclusive global licensing agreement worth up to €414m with Sanofi for the former’s oral pre-clinical IL-17A inhibitor programme.