Japanese firm Astellas Pharma has entered a licence and collaboration agreement with US-based Chromocell to develop and commercialise therapeutics to treat neuropathic and other pain conditions.

As part of the deal, Astellas will secure worldwide rights to commercialise CC8464 and back-up drug candidates to treat pain that have been identified through Chromocell’s Chromovert technology platform.

The deal will see Chromocell receive $15m as an upfront payment and is eligible to receive over $500m, including development and commercial milestones, as well as double digit royalties on sales if CC8464 is successfully commercialised.

Development of CC8464 will be carried out by Chromocell through the initial Phase IIa proof-of-concept clinical trial in neuropathic pain.

"The deal will see Chromocell receive $15m as an upfront payment and is eligible to receive over $500m if CC8464 is successfully commercialised."

All further development activities will be led by Astellas through to commercialisation of CC8464 to treat peripheral neuropathic pain.

In addition to these development activities, Chromocell may propose and start studies for certain additional indications such as rare diseases and non-oral formulations of the drug candidate.

Under the deal, Astellas has the right to opt-in for development for such additional indications, which triggers additional payments to Chromocell, and co-promotion rights in the US in certain cases.

Astellas senior vice-president and chief strategy officer Kenji Yasukawa said: "Astellas expects to provide a new therapeutic option to neuropathic and other pain conditions with high unmet medical needs by the collaboration to develop CC8464, and to make further contributions to the treatment of patients with pain conditions."

Chromocell’s lead compound CC8464 is an oral, peripherally acting inhibitor of NaV1.7, an ion channel, involved in the transmission of pain, which may prove to be efficacious in several large unmet or poorly served chronic pain markets and rare, currently untreated diseases.

Chromocell expects to file an investigational new drug (IND) application for CC8464 in early 2016.

Chromovert is Chromocell’s drug discovery platform that allows the identification of rare cells ideally suited for effective high-throughput screening.