Array BioPharma has signed an agreement with Novartis to develop small-molecule MEK inhibitors ARRY-162, ARRY-300 and other inhibitors, the company said.

Long-term preclinical safety studies have been completed and Array has identified a commercially viable synthetic process and oral formulation for ARRY-162.

ARRY-162 is in a multiple dose, open-label phase I trial aimed at determining the maximum tolerated dose and evaluating pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics and safety following daily oral administration in advanced cancer patients with solid tumours.

Array will receive $45m comprising an upfront and milestone payment and will receive an additional $422m following certain clinical, regulatory and commercial milestones, as part of the collaboration.

Array will also be eligible for double-digit royalties on approved drug sales outside the US and a higher royalty rate for US sales.