Abbott Laboratories has signed a deal giving it access to an early-stage biologic being developed by PanGenetics of the Netherlands.

The US major has acquired the global rights to privately-owned PanGenetics’ PG110, a fully humanised antibody which targets nerve growth factor (NGF) and is in Phase I trials for the treatment of chronic pain. Under the terms of the agreement, the Utrecht-based company is getting an upfront payment of $170 million plus additional milestones of $20 million.

The transaction is expected to close before the end of the year. Abbott expects to incur one-time charges related to in-process R&D but says the deal will not affect its earnings-per-share guidance for 2009. PG110 is currently being studied in patients with osteoarthritis and if the Phase I trial is successful, the compound will be evaluated “in a number of other pain states”, including chronic lower back pain, cancer pain and diabetic neuropathic pain.

Abbott added that the NGF inhibitor complements its “robust early-stage pipeline of candidates in development for chronic pain, which spans multiple mechanisms”. These include vanilloid cellular, cannabinoid and histamine H3 receptors, as well as preclinical work “on a number of promising ion channel targets”.

John Leonard, senior vice president for R&D at Abbott, said that the goal for treatment of chronic pain “continues to be potent, long-lasting analgesia that is tolerable for patients without the potential for dependence and abuse," NGF blockers “have demonstrated the potential to address all of these needs”, he added, “making them a promising treatment for chronic pain patients”.