Pharmaceutical giant Novartis is to spend USD 110 million for the purchase of the global rights to Galapagos and MorphoSys companies that are developing the anti-IL-17C (MOR106) antibody. The transaction will pave the way for Novartis to treat atopic dermatitis with the use of monoclonal antibodies.
Galapagos and MorphoSys jointly discovered MOR106 in 2008 and each company is entitled to its share of rights to the discovery at 50%. Both partners particularly focused on the development of IL-17C, led by the belief that this interleukin may perform the role of an amplifier of local inflammation accompanying skin diseases, atopic dermatitis (AD) included. After having completed a set of data on the safety of phase 1 and performing pre-clinical tests concerning the drug's efficacy, Galapagos shifted anti-IL-17C antibody to phase 2 in May of this year. From that moment on, Novartis group has taken action. Currently, it is set to finance the milestones of phase 2 and the drug's prototype. While MorphoSys and Galapagos will remain engaged in the clinical development of MOR106, Novartis will have the full ownership rights to the drug, also being supposed to bear all expenses.
The Swiss giant is to purchase the ownership rights to the new drug by paying upfront an amount of USD 110 million. MOR106 formulation will be incorporated into the immune-dermatology pipeline of Novartis along with ZPL389 - namely an oral antagonist of H4 receptor, acquired through the takeover of Ziarco company in 2016. Both drugs are being developed chiefly to serve the treatment of atopic dermatitis, while the MOR106 program has got a potential for undergoing further development, finally allowing for its use for the treatment of other diseases.
"This collaboration with Novartis will enable us to accelerate and broaden the development of MOR106 beyond our current focus on atopic dermatitis and to exploit the potential of MOR106 to the maximum. Data from preclinical models and expression analyses suggest that the target of MOR106 might be involved in other diseases, which justifies expanding the development program," stated Simon Moroney, Ph.D, the CEO of MorphoSys.