Aciex Therapeutics, Inc. (Aciex) today announced that it has entered into a collaborative research agreement with Portola Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Portola) that provides Aciex with exclusive rights to develop Portola’s small molecule dual Spleen Tyrosine Kinase (Syk)/Janus Kinase (JAK) inhibitors for ophthalmic indications. The Portola library includes both compounds with extensive preclinical systemic data packages as well as earlier stage research compounds. The two companies will target development of drugs to treat topical ophthalmic diseases, including ocular allergy, dry eye and other inflammatory eye conditions, for which there is a strong scientific rationale for Syk and JAK inhibition.
“Aciex shares with Portola a common goal of using leading-edge science to develop and deliver therapies for patients who currently have limited or no approved treatments.”
Under the terms of the agreement, Aciex will obtain access to Portola’s small molecule dual Syk/JAK inhibitors and will lead clinical development activities for ophthalmic indications. Both companies will fund and participate in development activities related to the programs. Portola retains the right to develop these compounds for non-ophthalmic indications.
“This strategic partnership combines Aciex’s specific ophthalmic research and development capability with Portola’s expertise in cellular signaling pathways and medicinal chemistry to advance treatments for inflammatory ocular conditions,” said Les Kaplan, Ph.D., executive chairman of Aciex. “Aciex shares with Portola a common goal of using leading-edge science to develop and deliver therapies for patients who currently have limited or no approved treatments.”
Dr. Mark Abelson, Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School and Senior Clinical Scientist at Schepens Eye Research Institute and Chief Scientific Officer at Ora, Inc. (Ora) said, “We are excited about this class of drugs. The Syk and JAK pathways targeted by Portola’s compounds offer the potential to provide robust inhibition of the mast cell and other inflammatory components of ocular disease and represent the next generation of therapy for the eye.” Ora will provide clinical development and regulatory consulting services to the collaboration.
About Aciex Therapeutics, Inc.
Aciex Therapeutics, Inc., located in Boston, MA, is a venture-backed ophthalmic pharmaceutical company focused on developing first-in-class products to treat ocular diseases. Existing investors in Aciex include Akorn, Inc., Bay City Capital, HealthCare Ventures, New Enterprise Associates and Ora Investment Group. Aciex’s product pipeline, which includes both clinical stage and pre-IND assets, is designed to fill significant unmet therapeutic needs and allow the Company to build a sustainable ophthalmic franchise. For more information about Aciex, visit www.aciexrx.com.
About Portola Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Portola Pharmaceuticals is a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing novel therapeutics in the areas of thrombosis, other hematologic disorders and inflammation for patients that currently have limited or no approved treatments. In thrombosis, Portola is developing betrixaban, a novel, oral, once-daily inhibitor of Factor Xa in development for extended duration prophylaxis of venous thromboembolism (VTE) in acute medically ill patients; and PRT4445, an antidote for Factor Xa inhibitors. Portola’s two other product candidates are orally available kinase inhibitors with unique pharmacologic properties targeting hematologic cancers and inflammatory disorders: PRT2070, which inhibits both spleen tyrosine kinase (Syk) and Janus kinases (JAK) enzymes, which regulate important signaling pathways; and PRT2607, which selectively inhibits Syk. Portola is developing PRT2070 for the treatment of certain B-cell hematologic cancers, with a particular focus on patients who have mutations that cause failure or relapse with existing treatments and those in development. Portola has a collaboration agreement with Biogen Idec to develop specific inhibitors of Syk. For more information, visit www.portola.com.