US healthcare major Bristol-Myers Squibb and biotechnology group Exelixis will put their heads together to work on developing and commercializing novel cholesterol-busting treatments, in the hope that they will help combat various cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.

The companies will focus on identifying drug targets against Liver X receptors, which are hormone receptors playing an important role in a wide variety of heart and metabolic disorders.

Under the terms of the deal, B-MS will pay its partner an initial fee of $17.5 million, and will provide research and development funding of around $20 million over two years.

Exelixis could also receive up to $140 million per product from development and regulatory milestones, as well as sales-based royalties after launch.

The news, however, failed to significantly ignite investor enthusiasm, as shares in Exelixis closed up just $0.07 at $8.28, while B-MS stock actually dropped $0.17 to $21.63.

The decline is likely to have been driven by other market news on the day, such as the group’s quarterly dividend declaration of $0.28 per share and full-year dividend forecast of $1.12 per share.