Sweden’s Karo Bio and Indian drugmaker Zydus Cadila have entered into a three-year research collaboration which will focus on treatments for inflammatory diseases.

Specifically, the firms will discover and develop novel, selective glucocorticoid receptor modulators which are used to treat conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowels disease, psoriasis and asthma which together represent a market potential of over $10 billion. However they argue that long-term use of such anti-inflammatory agents can lead to obesity, diabetes and osteoporosis so “there is a great need for new, selective glucocorticoids devoid of one or more of these side effects,” they argue.

Under the terms of the agreement, financial details of which were not disclosed, Karo Bio says it will leverage its expertise in nuclear receptor drug discovery, while Zydus Cadila will carry out “a focused drug discovery and development programme, undertaking pre-clinical studies, filing of the Investigational New Drug Application and performing human clinical trials”. The companies will “equally share risk and rewards” from the pact.

“The glucocorticoid receptor is one of our prioritised target proteins and we have generated considerable knowledge and expertise in the field,” said Per Olof Wallstrom, Karo Bio’s president, adding that “in Zydus Cadila we have found a very complementary partner”. The Indian firm’s chairman, Pankaj Patel, said that by combining the strengths of the companies, “we should be able to design and develop novel molecules, which would eventually replace currently available steroids for treatment of inflammatory disorders”.