Another day and yet another deal for GlaxoSmithKline which has signed a pact with the USA’s Archemix to develop aptamer therapeutics to treat inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.

The alliance gives GSK an option to license product candidates directed at seven different aptamer targets and it will initially make an upfront payment of $27.5 million to Archemix, which includes a $6.5 million equity investment. The latter firm could also be eligible to receive up to $200 million in various milestone payments for each of the seven aptamer therapeutics, plus tiered royalties up to lower double-digits.

Jose Carlos Gutierrez-Ramos, head of the Immuno-Inflammation Centre of Excellence for Drug Discovery at GSK, said that the deal is “an important extension of our externalisation strategy” and provides the firm with “an outstanding opportunity to work with the world leader in aptamer discovery and development". He added that the application of aptamers, “with their unique properties, is an exciting opportunity that holds enormous potential for the treatment of many devastating diseases of the immune system”. Aptamers are synthetised oligonucleotides that bind to proteins with high affinity and specificity.

The deal is clearly a boost for Archemix, which also has partnerships with the likes of Merck Serono, Pfizer, Takeda, Eli Lilly and Isis Pharmaceuticals. Last month it announced plans to merge with NitroMed and given the cash injection from GSK, the new entity will have cash and equivalents of approximately $78-88 million.