Ipsen has signed a new deal with an old partner, Switzerland’s Debiopharm Group, covering an anti-cancer agent.

Debiopharm has been granted an exclusive worldwide licence to Ipsen’s first-in-class inhibitor of the CDC-25 phosphatase enzyme. The preclinical compound, now called Debio 0931, “represents a promising novel target for cancer therapies”, the firms said, noting that Debiopharm will be exclusively responsible for its development and Ipsen will have an option to re-acquire development and commercialisation rights after the completion of Phase II trials.

No financial details of the pact were disclosed but Ipsen will receive an upfront payment and be eligible for milestones and royalties. Chief executive Jean-Luc Belingard noted that Debiopharm “is our long-standing partner with whom we have had a very fruitful partnership in other areas of oncology for more than 20 years and we feel confident that the full potential of CDC-25 will be maximised".

The collaboration between Ipsen and Debiopharm started in 1983 with regards to luteinising hormone-releasing hormone agonists, in particular for Decapeptyl (triptorelin) for prostate cancer. First-half 2009 sales of the drug reached 126.5 million euros.

In October 2007, the partnership was extended to grant Ipsen access to future sustained-release formulations of Decapeptyl.