Surrozen and Boehringer Ingelheim have entered a partnership and licence agreement for researching and developing SZN-413 to treat retinal diseases.

The collaboration will merge the SWAP technology of Surrozen for Wnt signalling modulation with the research and development capabilities of Boehringer for developing a first-in-class eye disease treatment.

According to the deal, Surrozen will provide an exclusive, global licence for developing SZN-413, as well as other Fzd4-specific Wnt-modulating molecules for all purposes, including retinal disease treatment, to Boehringer.

Boehringer will make an upfront payment of $12.5m to Surrozen in return.

Additionally, Surrozen is entitled to get payments totalling up to $586.5m on meeting development, regulatory and commercial milestones, apart from sales-based royalty payments.

Boehringer will be responsible for all development and commercial activities following the preliminary joint research period.

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The latest deal is said to be the first strategic collaboration of Surrozen for one of its compounds currently in development.

A bi-specific antibody, SZN-413 acts on Fzd4-mediated Wnt signalling.

Developed leveraging the SWAP technology, SZN-413 is presently in the development stage to treat retinal vascular-associated ailments.

In retinopathy preclinical models, the compound showed to induce Wnt signalling in the eye, elicit normal regrowth of retinal vessels, hinder pathological vessel growth and lower vascular leakage.

This new approach could aid in healthy eye tissue regeneration, thereby stopping retinopathy and facilitating a complete disease reversal.

Surrozen CEO Craig Parker said: “Surrozen looks forward to the new partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim and to having our teams and scientists work to advance the potential opportunities for our Fzd4-targeted Wnt agonist programme.

“We believe that compelling genetic and experimental evidence of the role for Fzd4-specific Wnt signalling in retinal vascular function points to the potential clinical impact of our approach.”

In September last year, Boehringer acquired Abexxa Biologics to adopt a new strategy in the immuno-oncology and oncology research fields to create advanced precision cancer therapies.