Denmark-based LEO Pharma has entered a global licensing agreement to develop and commercialise South Korean JW Pharmaceutical’s JW1601 drug candidate in a deal worth approximately $402m.
Under the terms of the deal, LEO Pharma will receive exclusive global rights to JW1601. However, JW Pharmaceutical will retain its exclusivity in South Korea.
JW Pharmaceutical’s JW1601 is a new drug candidate for the treatment of atopic dermatitis. It was developed by one of the company’s affiliates, C&C Research Laboratories.
Last year, JW Pharmaceutical acquired the exclusive rights to develop and commercialise the drug candidate globally. An investigational new drug application for a Phase I clinical trial is expected to be submitted over the coming months.
JW1601 is designed to prevent the activation and migration of immune cells that cause atopic dermatitis. The therapeutic selectively targets the histamine H4 receptor and inhibits histamine signalling responsible for itching.
The anti-pruritic and anti-inflammatory effects are expected to deliver better efficacy, while the selectivity towards H4 receptor is expected to show a good safety profile.
LEO Pharma Global R&D executive vice-president Kim Kjoeller said: “At LEO Pharma, we continuously seek to expand our pipeline with new innovative solutions with the ultimate aim of bringing real life-changing medicines to the many patients we serve.
This compound is a perfect fit with our existing biologics currently in phase III (Tralokinumab) and phase I (LP0145) and our topical Delgocitinib currently in phase II.”
As part of the agreement, JW Pharmaceutical will receive an upfront fee of $17m, followed by up to $385m in stepwise development and sales milestones.
In addition to the milestone payments, LEO Pharma will pay royalties on net sales of the drug candidate.