Shares in Galapagos are on the rise after the Belgian company signed an agreement with Roche which could be worth as much as 400 million euros.

The firms have entered into a global multi-year strategic alliance to develop new therapies in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Cashwise, Galapagos has received a research access fee of 6 million euros and is eligible to receive various milestone payments that could potentially exceed 400 million euros, plus royalties on the commercialisation of any products covered in the agreement.

Galapagos will apply its discovery platform to discover novel COPD targets and be responsible for the development of new small molecule candidates against these targets. Roche will have an exclusive option to license each programme after either clinical candidate selection or completion of Phase I trials. The Swiss firm has an exclusive option to license the COPD targets for the discovery and development of antibodies against them.

Galapagos chief executive Onno van de Stolpe said the alliance demonstrates the versatility of the firm’s discovery platform “in identifying novel targets across a wide range of therapeutic areas”. He added that “we are excited that this collaboration will focus on both antibodies and small molecules as potential drugs for COPD” and “Roche’s vast experience in developing and commercialising antibodies makes it the perfect partner for this combined approach”.

Later on a conference call, Mr van de Stolpe said “we are really in a sweet spot for the pharmaceutical industry where we are exactly providing to them what all of them have set as their strategic plans going forward with regard to discovery research”. He went on to say that “we're clearly the number one biotech company in the world regarding alliances with big pharma”, noting that another deal could be secured by the end of the year.

Galapagos already has alliances in place with GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen Pharmaceutica, Eli Lilly and Merck & Co. News of the Roche link-up pushed its shares up 6.6% to 9.05 euros.