Glaxosmithkline, Europe's biggest pharmaceutical company, continued its policy of doing small scale partnership deals and eschewing so-called mega mergers yesterday by penning an exploratory agreement with biotechnology group Chroma.
The deal, which could eventually be worth as much as $1bn, gives GSK access to a technology that Oxford-based Chroma claims helps molecules suppress identifiable cells more efficiently, and with fewer side effects. The deal is centred on compounds developed to treat inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Ian Nicholson, the chief executive of privately-owned Chroma refused to say how much GSK had paid up-front, but the pharma giant has decided to enter the agreement even before the technology has passed "proof-of-concept" assessments, only after which can it be tested on patients. Under the deal GSK will pay Chroma so-called milestones as the technology clears certain regulatory hurdles, and will get the licence to market the drugs, paying Chroma a royalty on any sales.
"We are delighted to collaborate with GSK to advance novel targeted therapies using our technology. This collaboration provides strong validation of our technology platform and will enable Chroma to progress a broad pipeline of novel agents against a range of serious diseases," said Mr Nicholson.
GSK, which also participated in Chroma's £15m equity raising yesterday, has signed several early stage deals in recent months. "This agreement marks GSK's continued efforts to access the best science and technology platforms worldwide. We believe Chroma's platform has tremendous potential, and look forward to working with Chroma to accelerate the discovery and development of innovative new medicines for patients," said Shelagh Wilson, a vice president at the company.
Mr Nicholson also revealed that Chroma is considering a public listing.