Maxygen, Inc. has announced that it has earned a $5 million milestone in its collaboration with Roche to develop improved interferon alpha protein therapeutics to treat hepatitis C virus (HCV) and hepatitis B virus (HBV) infections.
Maxygen established the alliance with Roche in May 2003 in which Roche licensed worldwide commercialization rights to specific interferon alpha product candidates developed by Maxygen for HCV and HBV.
Based on the continued development of the interferon alpha product candidates and the achievement of predefined goals, Maxygen could receive additional significant milestone payments in addition to royalties on product sales.
Maxygen and Roche are completing late stage preclinical studies and GMP manufacturing and expect to enter clinical development for this next generation interferon alpha in 2006.
"Our collaboration with Roche to advance our next generation interferon alpha program has been extremely positive and productive," commented Russell Howard, Chief Executive Officer of Maxygen.
"This is a valuable partnership in which both parties complement each other. We believe our next generation interferon alpha program has the potential to become a cornerstone of future hepatitis C therapy and we are confident that Roche is the best partner for the program."
"After two years of working closely with Maxygen, we are positive about both the partnership and the program," said Peter Hug, Roche's Global Head of Pharma Partnering.
"Through the combined expertise of Maxygen and Roche, we continue to pursue the development of next generation HCV and HBV compounds for improved treatments for patients."
Under the terms of the agreement, Maxygen has the option prior to initiation of Phase III clinical trials to co-fund product development and commercialization in the United States in exchange for profit sharing or an increased royalty rate.
The companies have the option to expand the collaboration to develop other interferon alpha products tailored for indications outside of HCV and HBV, including oncology, autoimmune diseases, inflammatory diseases, and other infectious diseases such as HIV.
Maxygen retains the right to develop such products while Roche may elect to acquire worldwide license and commercialization rights to these product candidates in exchange for milestone payments and royalties on commercialized products.