2023-05-11| Partnerships

Angelini Pledges Over $500 Million in Biobucks for JCR’s Epilepsy Therapy Tech

by Reed Slater
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To delve deeper into the brain health therapy field, Italian biotech Angelini Pharma agreed to pay Japan-based JCR Pharmaceuticals up to $505.5 million in biobucks for the company’s blood-brain barrier penetrating technology. The partnership will focus on developing treatments for epilepsy using JCR’s proprietary techniques. 

Related Article: Ginkgo and Boehringer Join Forces in a $406 Million Partnership to Uncover New Therapeutic Molecules

Developing Therapies for Tricky Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a common neurological condition that can result in frequent seizures, which can cause a wide range of symptoms. About 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy, and it occurs in people of all ages but often starts either in childhood or after the age of 60. 

Many therapies are tailored to treat epilepsy, most of which are characterized as anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs). Other forms of treatment include brain surgery to remove a small part of the brain that might cause seizures and electrical implant devices that can help control seizures. 

However, because epilepsy is a neurological condition, cases can vary drastically from person to person. This aspect of the condition can make it difficult to treat, and many people do not benefit from drugs currently on the market. In turn, there are still significant unmet needs in the field, so companies continue to search for more effective ways to treat epilepsy.

Angelini and JCR are two companies working to develop new therapies to treat conditions related to brain health. Their most recent partnership focuses on leveraging JCR’s proprietary technology to develop epilepsy therapies.

Penetrating the Blood-Brain Barrier

The deal centers around JCR’s J-Brain Cargo technology, which could help deliver therapies across the blood-brain barrier (BBB) to help treat central nervous system-related disorders. 

As part of the deal, Angelini will pay JCR an undisclosed upfront payment to use J-Brain Cargo to develop epilepsy therapies. In addition to the upfront payment, JCR is eligible to receive up to $505.5 million in development and commercial milestones. If an epilepsy therapy ever makes it to the market using the BBB-penetrating tech, JCR could also stand to make tiered royalties on the sale of such a product. 

JCR will also retain the right to commercialize any product in Japan, but Angelini will have the option to develop and commercialize products using JCR’s technology elsewhere. 

Shin Ashida, Chairman and President of JCR, said, “The blood-brain barrier has remained an elusive target in clinical research for neurological disease, and we are excited to partner with Angelini Pharma to bring forward new therapies for these patients … Combining our key technologies with Angelini Pharma’s deep therapeutic knowledge in neurological diseases will create new treatment options for people living with epilepsy.”

JCR is developing several therapies using J-Brain Cargo, including a therapy to treat MPS type 2, which is in Phase III trials, and a therapy to treat MPS type 1, which is in Phase I/II trials. 

Angelini and JCR’s most recent partnership is exciting news for the two companies and epilepsy treatment development. With big money on the line, both companies will work toward developing revolutionary new therapies to treat epilepsy using JCR’s proprietary BBB-penetrating technology.

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