Pfizer inked a $195 million deal with US biopharmaceutical company Hydra Biosciences yesterday to gain access to its TRPV3 antagonist portfolio for pain.

According to Hydra, transient-receptor-potential channels are distinct from the classic 'voltage gated' ion channels. They represent 10% of all ion channels but homology between the TRP family members is also quite low, meaning there is greater potential to identify specific modulators than has previously been possible.

Under the terms of the agreement, Hydra will receive upfront and development milestone payments totaling $195 million for the first developed product launched, with additional potential for new approved indications as well as different agents. Pfizer will fund all research and development under the agreement and will receive exclusive access to Hydra's current TRPV3 patents as well as an exclusive license to commercialize any compound from the collaboration. Once the products are on the market, Pfizer will pay worldwide royalties to Hydra.

Ion channels have been implicated in many diseases, including hypertension, cardiac arrhythmias, gastrointestinal disorders, cystic fibrosis and pathological pain. Many drugs on the market today act on ion channels, either directly or indirectly, including calcium channel blockers for hypertension and angina, and sodium channel blockers for pain.

Over 50 million people suffer from inflammatory pain, including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Millions more suffer from post-operative, back and diabetic neuropathic pain. The total worldwide market for all pain indications is estimated to be $20 billion.