Sweden's Albireo, created as a spin-out of AstraZeneca, has licensed its bowel drug elobixibat to Ajinomoto Pharmaceuticals Co.

Under the terms of the deal, which covers Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Taiwan, Ajinomoto Pharmaceuticals will pay a "significant" upfront fee and milestones. The Gothenburg-headquartered firm will be eligible for tiered double-digit royalties.

Elobixibat is a first-in-class investigational drug in development for chronic constipation and irritable bowel syndrome with constipation (IBS-C). Phase II trials have demonstrated clinically meaningful, statistically significant and dose-dependent improvement on key constipation and IBS-C symptoms such as bowel movement frequency, straining, stool consistency and bloating.

Tomoyasu Toyoda, chief executive of the Tokyo-based company, said his firm will with Albireo to file the New Drug Application "and launch the product as quickly as possible". He added that elobixibat "will be the starting point of the growing collaborative relationship…in the gastrointestinal area".

Ajinomoto already has various treatments for lower gastrointestinal tract diseases and among its IBD therapies, an oral alpha-4 integrin antagonist, a once-daily 5-ASA granules treatment and a budesonide rectal foam are under development.