Argenta Discovery has achieved a significant milestone under its collaboration with AstraZeneca to identify more efficient bronchodilators for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

By nominating the first candidate for development by AstraZeneca, Argenta has earned itself an undisclosed milestone payment from the drug giant as per the terms of their alliance, which was sealed 10 months ago.

Earlier this year, the companies signed a pact to work together on discovering long-acting muscarinic antagonists and dual acting muscarinic antagonist-_2 agonist candidate drugs for the treatment of COPD as once daily, inhaled mono or combination therapies.

AstraZeneca is responsible for developing any candidates and putting them on the market, while Argenta stands to receive development, regulatory and sales milestones, depending on the project’s success.

Lucrative partnership

The deal could net Argenta up to $500 million excluding royalties, so news that the programme is already surpassing expectations will be welcomed by the firm.

“The programme is delivering beyond the expectations of both parties on all fronts and I believe we are certainly on track to achieve our original goal for the first candidate from the collaboration to enter the clinic during 2008,” beamed Argenta’s chief executive Dr Christopher Ashton.

AstraZeneca’s Claude Bertrand, Global Vice President of Respiratory and Inflammation, was equally positive about the progress of the collaboration, and said he expects more candidates to be nominated “in the very near future.”