Abbott Laboratories has signed another deal with partner Reata Pharmaceuticals which will boost the latter's bank balance by a further $400 million.

The companies will jointly develop Reata's portfolio of second-generation oral antioxidant inflammation modulators (AIMs). The agreement is in addition to the partnership they announced in September 2010 in which Abbott paid some $450 million to get certain rights to bardoxolone, an AIM compound which is in Phase III for chronic kidney disease.

The latest deal covers "a large number of molecules in a broad range of therapeutic areas, including pulmonary, central nervous system disorders and immunology". Abbott and Reata will equally share costs and profits for all new AIMs in all indications except for rheumatoid arthritis and select other autoimmune diseases, in which Abbott will be responsible for 70% of costs and profits.

Abbott will make a one-time licence payment of $400 million to Reata and the companies expect the first compound in this latest collaboration to enter into clinical trials in 2012. The deal also includes a research agreement in which the firms will work together "to discover new molecules that exhibit the same pharmacology as the AIMs already in Reata's pipeline".

John Leonard, head of pharma R&D at Abbott, said the deal allows the company to "enhance its promising research pipeline across multiple therapeutic areas". He added that "accumulating data has established the potential for AIMs in neuroscience and immunology, and we look forward to expanding our knowledge".

The collaboration, and the amount of cash Abbott is paying upfront, is quite striking, coming a week after the firm's chief executive Miles White told attendees at the FT Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology conference in London, that investors do not value pipelines. Abbott is in the process of splitting its $18 billion drugs arm from its diagnostics, devices, nutrition and branded generics businesses.