Bayer has linked up with the University of Oxford to develop gynaecological therapies, focusing on endometriosis and uterine fibroids.

Under the terms of the agreement, both parties will contribute “innovative drug targets and high quality technology infrastructures” and “share responsibilities from basic research to early clinical trials in these two diseases”. The collaboration will be for an initial period of two years but is open for extension for up to five years.

Financial details have not been disclosed but Bayer is eligible to license both drug targets, while Oxford will receive undisclosed milestone and royalty payments depending on the successful development and approval of potential drug candidates.

Andrew Hamilton, vice chancellor at the university, said the collaboration “draws on the particular skill sets of each partner in the development of innovative new therapies that could benefit millions of women”. He added that the deal “shows Oxford’s commitment to work jointly with industry to develop novel medicines”.

Endometriosis, which affects some 176 million women worldwide or 10% of women of reproductive age, is caused by the abnormal growth of tissue similar to that which lines the uterus. It is associated with painful periods, chronic pelvic pain, painful intercourse and sub-fertility.

Uterine fibroids are the most common benign tumours in women affecting 5%-10% of premenopausal women who suffer from symptoms such as heavy menstrual bleeding and pressure of the bladder and rectum.