A Dundee University spinout company has signed an agreement that could be worth more than £100m.
In4Derm is an innovative drug discovery company developing the next generation of topical and oral therapies for widespread inflammatory conditions such as eczema and rheumatoid arthritis.
The Dundee firm has agreed an option license agreement with an unnamed company that will bring financial and development support, and will work on the development of In4Derm’s pipeline assets.
If successful, it will lead to the city-based company benefiting from more than £140m ($200m) in milestones and royalties.
Tim Sparey, In4Derm chief executive, said: “Both companies share the same vision for developing new therapeutics to treat high unmet needs in inflammation where millions of patients have no adequate treatment options.
“Our partnership will accelerate the development of In4Derm’s pipeline of oral BDII selective BET and topical BET compounds in major disease markets.
“The rapid progress of In4Derm from spinout in mid-2020 to seed round to strategic partnership in less than 12 months is testament to the commitment of the team and the support of its investors, the University of Dundee and Scottish Enterprise.”
In4Derm was set up by Dr Andrew Woodland and Dr Mark Bell, medicinal chemists at the university’s School of Life Sciences.
Dr Woodland said he was “thrilled” by the latest news.
He said: “It’s really exciting. In our first year to have spun out from the university and now have a commercial deal, it has been very rapid progress.
“We have agreed an option agreement with this company – we can’t name them at this time.
“The deal is that we receive an upfront payment and there’s milestones and royalties.
“We’re not able to disclose the fine details but if it reached the market we would expect to receive over $200m.
“We’ll work with the partner to develop both the topical and oral therapies.
“It’s great to have reached this stage so quickly.”
In4Derm is currently working on two projects – a cream for conditions such as eczema, and oral therapy – a pill – that could help cure severe inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.
Steroid creams are frequently prescribed for skin diseases, but these can cause serious side effects as well as proving inadequate to bring diseases such as psoriasis and eczema under control.
Patients may then be referred for more intensive treatment, which could include taking pills or injections.
Many treatments are not suitable for children, who are also more likely to suffer from eczema than adults.
As a result, there is a significant unmet need for new treatments for these diseases, and In4Derm has identified a new approach.
Great platform for development
Sunil Shah, chief executive at o2h Ventures, the lead investors for In4Derm, welcomed the news.
He said: “This early discovery stage collaboration between In4Derm and the partner, will both provide the resources and speed up the time to provide novel drug therapeutics to patients.
“The first commercial deal for the company is a great platform for the team at In4Derm to develop novel therapeutic programmes.”
In4Derm combines Dundee’s excellence in molecular science with its world-leading drug discovery expertise.