Dublin, Ireland-based Allergan has acquired US-based, clinical stage biopharma Chase Pharmaceuticals, beefing up its neurodegenerative disorders pipeline.

Under the deal, Allergan has paid Chase an upfront fee of $125 million, but the deal's value could reach $1 billion if all potential regulatory and sales milestone payment targets are achieved.

Chase's lead compound, CPC-­201, which combines the most commonly prescribed acetylcholinesterase inhibitor (AChEI), donepezil, and the peripherally acting cholinergic blocker, solifenacin, is being investigated as a potential treatment for Alzheimer's disease patients.

The firms note that while AChEIs have been shown to improve cognition in Alzheimer's disease patients, those currently on the marked are "only modestly effective" because dose-limiting side effects, including diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting.

Chase says its next-generation formulations of donezepil "offer the possibility of greater and more tolerable dosing, and may provide the potential for significantly improved cognition and function in Alzheimer's disease patients," as evidenced by Phase II data showing that 88 percent of patients were able to take the maximum dose of the drug allowed without experiencing any dose-limiting side effects.

Allergan intends to take CPC-201 into a single Phase III registration study sometime next year.

Commenting on the strategy behind the deal, David Nicholson, Allergan's chief R&D officer, noted that Alzheimer's disease "represents a major and growing global public health problem, for which very few approved treatment options are available, and the societal cost is measured in hundreds of billions of dollars, so the need for improved treatment choices is paramount."

"This acquisition adds a new Phase III ready program for Alzheimer's disease to our CNS portfolio and builds on our commitment to develop innovative approaches to improve the lives of millions of patients suffering from this devastating illness."

Allergan has been on the acquisition trail ever since its deal with Pfizer fell apart at the beginning of the year, with recent purchases including AstraZeneca's Crohn's disease drug MEDI2070 for potentially up to $1.52 billion, US biotech Tobira Therapeutics for up to $1.7 billion, and Akarna Therapeutics for least $50 million.