Daiichi Sankyo is licensing a new cancer therapy from partner ArQule in a deal that could be worth up to $265 million to the US biotech.

The drug in question is ARQ 092 and it is the first compound to emerge from the companies’ November 2008 agreement to collaborate using ArQule technology to generate small molecule kinase inhibitors. It will be studied to identify its utility in targeting the AKT signalling pathway, Daiichi Sankyo noted, which plays a role in regulating cell growth, survival, migration and angiogenesis. Patient enrollment for a Phase I trial will begin in the coming months.

Cashwise, ArQule will pocket a $10 million upfront fee and an additional $255 million in potential clinical, regulatory and sales milestones, plus tiered, double-digit royalties. Kazunori Hirokawa, head of R&D at Daiichi Sankyo, said the ARQ 092 collaboration builds on the success of the firms' other partnerships, including the co-development of the c-MET inhibitor, tivantinib, which is currently in Phase III as a treatment for non-squamous, non-small cell lung cancer.

Meantime, ArQule posted its financials for the third quarter which show that net loss narrowed 64.7% to just under $2.3 million. Revenues were up 44.5% to just shy of $12 million.