Celgene Corp has entered into a collaboration with Concert Pharmaceuticals which will focus on developing deuterium-modified compounds targeting cancer and inflammation.

Under the terms of the agreement, Concert will receive an undisclosed upfront fee from and be eligible to receive more than $300 million in development, regulatory and sales milestone payments for each programme selected for advancement by Celgene, plus tiered royalties. The collaboration will initially focus on one programme, but "has the potential to encompass multiple targets".

On its website, Concert says it has investigated the effects of selective deuterium modification on dozens of compounds including many validated drugs and is looking to improve their ADME (absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion) profile. It currently has 37 issued US patents. The Celgene agreement is Concert’s third in the last year, as deals have been signed with Avanir Pharmaceuticals and Jazz Pharmaceuticals.

As for Celgene, it has been increasing its alliances of late. A week ago, the firm signed a deal with Forma Therapeutics focusing on the latter's investigative protein homeostasis-based drugs. The collaboration, which involves an undisclosed upfront payment, gives Celgene the right to obtain licences for multiple drug candidates outside the USA in exchange for research and early development payments of up to $200 million.

Meantime Celgene has unveiled more promising data on apremilast as a treatment for psoriatic arthritis.

Statistical significance was achieved for the primary endpoint of ACR 20 at week 16 for patients receiving apremilast 20 mg and 30 mg BID monotherapy in PALACE 4, the fourth study evaluating the phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4) inhibitor in patients with PsA. Celgene noted that this is the first trial studying patients who had not previously received an oral disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD).

Randall Stevens, head of R&D for inflammation and immunology, added that despite recent advances in the treatment of PsA, "there remains a significant need for more oral DMARD treatment options for DMARD-naïve patients”. Celgene has already filed apremalist for PsA in the USA and submissions for psoriasis across the Atlantic and a combined PsA/psoriasis filing in Europe, are scheduled for the second half of 2013.