US biotechnology group Gilead Sciences has entered into an agreement with privately-held Parion Sciences giving it access to the latter’s lung disease candidate P-680 in a deal worth up to $146 million.

Under the terms of the partnership, Gilead gains global commercialisation rights to the drug, an epithelial sodium channel (ENaC) inhibitor, in the treatment of pulmonary diseases such as cystic fibrosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

In return, Gilead will pay Parion $5 million upfront as well as $5 million for a stake in the firm. In addition, it will bear the cost of research as well as pay development-based milestones and double-digit, sales-based royalties to Parion.

Commenting on the deal, Paul Boucher, Director of Operations of Parion, said: “This agreement validates the importance of ENaC inhibitors in the treatment of diseases involving defects in the innate defenses of the body's mucosal surfaces…[and] enables us to accelerate our development of P-680 and broaden our research programs."

And A Bruce Montgomery, senior vice president and head of respiratory therapeutics at Gilead, explained that the move “complements our program for development of aztreonam lysine for inhalation for treatment of CF-related lung infections,” and says the firm will “work closely with Parion to complete preclinical development of P-680 in the hopes of advancing it into clinical studies.”

Aztreonam lysine doing well

Earlier this year, Gilead reported that a Phase III study of aztreonam lysine for inhalation for the treatment of people with cystic fibrosis who have pulmonary Pseudomonas aeruginosa met its primary efficacy endpoint, with patients reporting a significant change in quality of life after 28 days.

The firm said at the time that it plans to seek marketing approval from the Food and Drug Administration for aztreonam lysine in the second half of 2007, having reported data from a previous late-stage trial which found that the compound reduced the need for inhaled or intravenous antibiotics.