UK drug giant GlaxoSmithKline has kicked off the New Year by signing up for development and commercialisation rights to US group ChemoCentryx’ inflammatory bowel disease candidate Traficet-EN.

Under an existing alliance between the two firms formed in 2006, which provides GSK with access to certain drugs against pre-defined targets with licensing options on completion of proof-of-concept studies, the UK drugmaker has decided to bag global rights to Traficet-EN (CCX282-B) for an initial fee of $35 million.

In addition, ChemoCentryx stands to receive further regulatory milestone payments and double-digit royalties on product sales post commercialisation, as well as the potential to boost its royalties if the group opts to co-fund development through Phase III and co-promote to physicians in the US.

CCX282-B is a small molecule oral drug that, by blocking the CCR9 chemokine receptor, is thought to modify the immune system’s incorrect response leading to inflammatory bowel disease, the two principal forms of which are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

GSK’s move to take the drug under its wing follows a promising performance in a Phase II study known as PROTECT-1, which showed its ability to reduce disease severity as an induction therapy as well as maintain remission in patients with moderate-to-severe forms of Crohn’s disease.

“Progressing the development of CCX282-B takes us closer to a valuable new treatment option for patients who suffer from these chronic, debilitating bowel diseases,” said Moncef Slaoui, chairman of research and development at GSK. Furthermore, he said that the drug might offer advantages over current treatment approaches for Crohn’s “by potentially offering reduced side effects and convenient oral dosing to patients”.