C4XD will receive milestone payments worth up to $16m ahead of the first clinical trial

C4XD – a company focused on drug discovery – has signed a global licensing agreement with AstraZeneca worth up to $402m for its NRF2 Activator programme.

AstraZeneca will oversee the commercialisation and development of an oral therapy for the treatment of inflammatory and respiratory diseases, with a primary focus on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

C4XD will receive pre-clinical milestone payments worth up to $16m ahead of the first clinical trial, including $2m upfront. Also, under the terms of the agreement, the company is eligible to receive a further $385.8m in clinical development and commercial milestones.

NRF2 is a vital natural regulator, controlling the expression of antioxidant genes and playing a key role in cellular defence against external insults. Targeting the NRF2 pathway to reduce inflammatory damage offers the potential for a new approach to treat a variety of inflammatory diseases, such as COPD. Activation of NRF2 may help in reducing the negative effects of the oxidative stress-induced progression of the disease.

Sir Mene Pangalos, Executive Vice President, BioPharmaceuticals R&D at AstraZeneca, reflected: “At AstraZeneca, we are committed to transforming care in respiratory and immune-mediated disease and move beyond symptom control. Our alliance with C4XD adds an important new asset to our portfolio to push the boundaries of science by targeting underlying disease drivers to potentially modify the course of these diseases.”

Dr Clive Dix, CEO of C4XD, commented: “Drug Discovery is inherently scientifically complex, and it is through our unique expertise and proprietary cutting-edge technologies that C4XD is yet again proving itself as an exemplar in this field.”

“NRF2 is thought to be a critical but challenging anti-inflammatory target, and I am proud of the work by our team to achieve a broad stable of intellectual property for this programme, leading to our third significant deal with a truly world-renowned industry leader,” he added.