Novartis has signed an exclusive global license agreement with Galapagos and MorphoSys for MOR106, a novel antibody directed against IL-17C.

It is thought that IL-17C contributes significantly to atopic dermatitis, a form of eczema and with “high prevalence and significant unmet medical need,” the firm said, explaining its interest in the drug.

Under the deal, Novartis has acquired rights to MOR106 for atopic dermatitis and all other potential indications.

In return, the Swiss drug giant will make an upfront payment of 95 million Euros to Galapagos and MorphoSys, and additional payments, royalties and fees pending achievement of agreed milestones.

It will also bear all future research, development, manufacturing and commercialisation costs related to the drug.

There is "a key role for biologics" to treat diseases such as psoriasis, chronic spontaneous urticaria and atopic dermatitis, "which are more than just skin conditions, as they have complex underlying root causes," said Eric Hughes, global development unit head, Immunology, Hepatology and Dermatology.

"We are pleased to work with Galapagos and MorphoSys who have a proven track record of developing drug candidates for severe inflammatory diseases."