The French Big Pharma, Sanofi, has paid $40 million and committed up to $765 million more in milestone payment to license Principia Biopharma’s preclinical multiple sclerosis drug PRN2246.
Principia has brought the BTK inhibitor PRN2246 into IND-enabling studies. During its journey, the company has collected data indicating the drug activates the effects on immune cell signaling which make BTK inhibitors a hot commodity in the autoimmune sector.
More importantly, Principia has discovered that PRN2246 navigates through the blood-brain barrier giving it the green light for use in multiple sclerosis as well as other neurological disorders. This finding caught the attention of Sanofi, known for its MS drugs Aubagio and Lemtrada. Sanofi is in hopes to land once again another MS franchise with its new preclinical asset.
As scientist generate additional evidence linking the protein to autoimmune disorders, interest in BTK increases. BTK is most notably known from the target of the cancer killer, Imbruvica. Merck KGaA is in mid-phase trials with the BTK inhibitor, evobrutini, for multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus
In 2014, Principia took advantage of the increased interest of BTK inhibitors and raised $50 million during a series B round. Although the biotech believes PRN2246’s power to navigate past the blood-brain barrier provides it with an advantage over its competitors, it determined that it was best to put all its resources towards its advanced BTK inhibitor.
Principia’s lead BTK inhibitor is PRN1008, which it is developing in pemphigus vulgaris, a severe autoimmune skin disease. The data of the phase 2 trial was presented at the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (EADV) last month.
“The agreement allows Principia to maximize the BTK opportunity in neurology with a strong partner for PRN2246 while focusing internal resources on our lead BTK inhibitor in another therapeutic area,” Principia CEO Martin Babler stated.