Quark Pharmaceuticals has granted Novartis an option to obtain exclusive worldwide licences to develop and commercialise QPI-1002, a potential kidney drug.

The deal will see Quark receive a non-refundable fee of $10m while the drug is still undergoing Phase II clinical trials. However, this could rise to as much as $670m if Novartis were to exercise all fees and milestone payments.

QPI-1002 is designed to inhibit the stress-response gene. It is intended to prevent acute kidney injury in patients undergoing major cardiovascular surgery and delayed graft function in kidney transplant patients.

Quark CEO Dr Daniel Zurr said that the drug’s ability to prevent cell death in conditions of severe stress, such as ischemia, could potentially open opportunities for Novartis to novel treatments in additional indications.