Fresh from teaming up with Belgium’s Galapagos in an anti-infectives deal, GlaxoSmithKline has signed a cancer stem cell alliance with OncoMed Pharmaceuticals which could see the latter firm net $1.4 billion.

The pact provides GSK with an option to license four possible drug candidates directed at multiple cancer stem cell targets from what is described as OncoMed’s broad library of monoclonal antibodies. The deal includes the Redwood City, California-based firm’s lead product candidate, OMP-21M18, a monoclonal antibody which is scheduled to enter the clinic in 2008.

Cashwise, OncoMed will receive an undisclosed initial payment comprised of cash as well as an equity investment. It is also eligible to earn milestone payments up to $1.4 billion from GSK based on the achievement of specified discovery, development, regulatory and commercial milestones, plus double-digit royalties on all collaboration product sales. Furthermore, GSK will have an option to invest in a future initial public offering by OncoMed.

Hugh Cowley, head of GSK’s Centre of Excellence for External Drug Discovery, said that the alliance confirms the firm’s “growing status as a world leader in the development of new oncology medicines” and “provides us access to an exciting new area of drug discovery.” He added that the targeting of cancer stem cells “has the potential to change the paradigm of how oncology patients are treated”.

Approvable letter for Requip XL, Requip CR application is dropped
Less good news for GSK came from the US Food and Drug Administration’s decision to only issue an approvable letter for the firm’s New Drug Application for Requip (ropinirole) XL, extended-release tablets for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Certain conditions will have to be satisfied prior to obtaining final marketing approval but on the bright side the FDA has not requested any new data.

GSK also noted that it has decided not to pursue an application to market Requip CR, a controlled-release formulation of the drug, for the treatment of restless leg syndrome. The original formulation of Requip is already approved for both Parkinson’s and RLS.