Evotec has licensed an early-stage inflammatory to Conba Pharmaceutical Co, one of China's largest drugmakers.

The treatment in question is the German biotechnology company's EVT 401, a P2X7 antagonist, which is thought to be involved in inflammation observed in some neurodegenerative diseases. The deal covers human indications with the exception of ophthalmological, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and endometriosis in China; the drug was licensed to "a major animal health company" in August 2011.

Evotec says it will receive a small upfront fee, plus development and commercial milestone payments in excess of 60 million euros. It is also eligible for double-digit royalties on net sales in China.

A Phase I study of EVT 401 was completed in 2010 and Conba will initiate further clinical trials in inflammatory diseases, notably rheumatoid arthritis. Evotec chief executive Werner Lanthaler said that the pact "will also increase the value of the P2X7 programme worldwide, and follows our strategy to align with the best and most dedicated partners in the industry".

Founded in 1958, Conba had turnover last year of 560 million renminbi (about $88.8 million). It has more than 1000 employees, over 40% of which have PhDs and a sales network which covers 50 major cities in China.