Biogen Idec has snapped up UK-based Convergence Pharmaceteuticals in a deal worth up to $675 million, buying into the latter's expertise in chronic pain research to boost growth of its own pain fortfolio.

The US biotech said last night it has agreed with Convergence an upfront fee of $200 million and potentially up to $400 million in milestone payments to acquire its business.

Convergence has a solid batch of ion channel-modulating experimental products for neuropathic pain in its pipeline, led by Phase II candidate CNV1014802, which has demonstrated proof-of-concept for trigeminal neuralgia, as well as for treating pain from lumbosacral radiculopathy, otherwise known as sciatica.

The deal is expected to close during the first quarter of this year.

Columbia University genetic pact

The news came just two days after Biogen and Columbia University Medical Center announced they have linked arms in a $30 million pact to carry out genetics discovery research on the underlying causes of disease, in the hope identifying new treatment approaches. 

Further financial details were not revealed, but the groups did say that under the agreement a sequencing and analysis facility and shared postdoctoral program will be established at Columbia to support collaborative genetics studies.  

The move will enable the parties to investigate patient genomes showing unusual treatment responses or unique disease presentations, and explore the connections among genes, pathways, and disease processes. The aim is to harvest multiple qualified targets for new therapeutic approaches.

“This collaboration marries the exceptional drug development expertise of Biogen with cutting-edge genomics expertise at Columbia University Medical Center,” said David Goldstein, founding director of the university’s Institute for Genomic Medicine. “It will not only focus on target identification and validation at the early stages of drug development, but also facilitate genetically informed evaluation of treatments,” he noted.