Pfizer has signed on the dotted line with Renovis, a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of drugs to treat neurological diseases and disorders, in a deal that could see the world’s largest pharmaceutical company pay more than $170 million dollars for the worldwide rights to market pain treatments targeting the vanilloid receptor, VR1. The collaboration will specifically focus on treatments for pain, urinary incontinence, and other diseases and disorders.

The VR1 receptor is an ion channel protein that mediates and influences cell signaling, including the nerve cell signaling that generates some types of pain. Inhibitors of VR1 are thought to be useful in the treatment of inflammation, various pain conditions, and a number of other disorders.

Under the terms of the deal, Renovis and Pfizer will combine their current VR1 research and development programmes. Pfizer will fund all aspects of the collaboration including the research and preclinical development efforts at Renovis and will have exclusive worldwide rights to commercialise products that result from the collaboration. Pfizer will pay Renovis a $10 million license fee to Renovis and, during the first two years of the collaboration, will provide research funding in excess of $7 million. Pfizer also has the option to extend the agreement for up to two additional years subject to additional funding requirements. Renovis will also be eligible to receive various milestone payments, which could top $170 million, as well as a royalty on any future product sales.

However, news of the Pfizer deal did little to buoy Renovis’ share price, which slumped 24% on the Nasdaq yesterday after investors became concerned over the future of the company’s stroke prevention agent, Cerovive (NXY-059), which is being developed together with AstraZeneca. According to a Reuters report, some traders are questioning whether the data are powerful enough.