US drug major Wyeth has signed research deals with two small European firms in the areas of schizophrenia and haemophilia.

The first is with Belgium’s elbion NV, which recently merged with 4AZA Bioscience, and the deal will centre around the latter’s phosphodiesterase 10 programme for central nervous system disorders with an initial focus on schizophrenia. Under the terms of the agreement, elbion could receive up to $110 million which includes an upfront payment, milestones and research funding. Wyeth will also pay out royalties on sales of products developed under the agreement.

The companies noted that PDE 10 is highly expressed in the neurons in the brain associated with neurological and psychiatric disorders and by inhibiting PDE10 activity it is thought that the function of neurons could be improved offering a new mechanism of action for the treatment of schizophrenia. Most of the research will be carried out at elbion's R&D facility at Radebeul, Germany.

Bernd Kastler, elbion’s chief executive, claimed the collaboration “underlines the high quality of elbion's science, particularly our expertise in the highly promising field of PDE inhibitors” and noted that Wyeth has “the experience and scale needed to best exploit this ground breaking science in a major indication."

The second deal Wyeth has signed is with Nautilus Biotech, based in Evry, France, which will look to discover and develop novel recombinant Factor IX proteins for the treatment of haemophilia B. Financial details of the agreement, which will see Nautilus Biotech apply its proprietary technology to improve the duration of action of recombinant haemophilia B therapy, were not disclosed.

A senior executive at the US firm said that it is continually evaluating technologies for next-generation haemophilia products and this research partnership “enhances Wyeth's presence in biopharmaceuticals.”