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AstraZeneca has signed an exclusive global licence agreement for rights to Synairgen’s SNG001, an inhaled interferon beta in clinical development for treating respiratory tract viral infections in patients with severe asthma.

Under the terms of the licence agreement, Synairgen will receive $7.25m up-front fee and potential development, and will receive regulatory and commercial milestones of up to $225m from AstraZeneca.

Synairgen will also receive tiered royalties from AstraZeneca ranging from single-digit up to mid-teens on commercial sales. AstraZeneca will be responsible for future development costs.

AstraZeneca will initiate a Phase IIa study in early 2015 in severe asthma patients, building on available clinical data from an initial Phase lla trial in a broad asthma population.

"AstraZeneca will initiate a Phase IIa study in early 2015 in severe asthma patients."

SNG001 also provides the opportunity to expand the clinical programme in other pulmonary diseases including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Synairgen CEO Richard Marsden said: "With its strong research focus and extensive experience in respiratory disease, AstraZeneca’s commitment to developing novel medicines for patients with asthma and COPD makes them the ideal partner for SNG001."

SNG001 has a broad spectrum anti-viral effect and contains interferon-beta that occurs naturally in the body. The drug supports the immune system by correcting a deficiency that makes patients vulnerable to respiratory tract viral infections.

It delivers interferon-beta to the lungs when an infection begins to develop in the upper airways. Inhaled interferon-beta boosts the anti-viral defence and combats the spread of the virus, preventing or reducing the severity of exacerbations.

Image: AstraZeneca headquarters in London, UK. Photo: courtesy of AstraZeneca plc.