Ipsen Bets $363 Million on IRLAB's Phase II Parkinson's Drug

Parkinson's Disease_Compressed

Paris-based Ipsen inked a licensing deal with Sweden’s IRLAB for mesdopetam, a possible drug for Parkinson’s disease. The drug, a novel dopamine D3-receptor antagonist, is being evaluated in Phase IIb trials for people with Parkinson’s disease who experience levodopa-induced dyskinesia (LID). The drug is also in early development for Parkinson’s Disease Psychosis (PDP).

Under the terms of the deal, Ipsen is paying IRLAB an upfront cash payment of $28 million and up to $335 million in development, regulatory and commercial milestones. IRLAB will also be eligible for low double-digit royalties on global net sales of the drug.

“We are excited to enter this licensing agreement with IRLAB,” said Howard Mayer, executive vice president and head of Research and Development, Ipsen. “By working in partnership, we aim to bring investigational mesdopetam to people living with Parkinson’s disease experiencing levodopa-induced dyskinesia. We are delighted to strengthen our pipeline and deepen our commitment to the neuroscience community around the world, including to patients living with this debilitating neurodegenerative disorder.”

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects more than 10 million people around the world. It affects nerve cells in the brain that control movement. The most common symptoms are tremors, muscle rigidity, and slow movement. 

The symptoms are most commonly managed by drugs such as levodopa, which makes up for the loss of dopaminergic neurons. But a common side effect is dyskinesia, involuntary and erratic movements of the face, arms, legs or trunk. It occurs in 40% to 50% of Parkinson’s patients. About half of Parkinson’s patients have symptoms of PDP.

In clinical trials, mesdopetam decreases the time of dyskinesia, increasing patient’s “good ON-time.” Preclinical work has also suggested it has antipsychotic properties.

“We believe in the potential of investigational mesdopetam for people with Parkinson’s disease experiencing dyskinesia or psychosis,” said Nicholas Waters, chief executive officer of IRLAB. “We have purposefully worked to find a partner to pursue the late-stage clinical development of mesdopetam to commercialization and launch on a global market. Ipsen shares the broad vision for mesdopetam and the commitment to people with neurological disorders. We are very excited to enter the final steps of the journey to market in collaboration with Ipsen.”

IRLAB will complete the Phase IIb trial, then Ipsen will continue with the Phase III studies and any other clinical development and global commercialization activities.

IRLAB also has another drug in its pipeline, pirepemat (IRL752) for Parkinson’s disease. This is focused on treating impaired balance, otherwise called postural dysfunction. This is associated with cognitive decline and increased risk for falls. 

Patients with Parkinson’s are two to three times more at risk of falling than age matched controls. There are no currently approved treatments explicitly targeting the risk of falling in Parkinson’s patients.

The drug allows for an increase in dopamine and noradrenaline levels in the nerve connections of the cerebral cortex. Pirepemat is currently in a Phase II development program. Positive Phase I data was published in the journal Clinical Pharmacology in Drug Development in June.

Of today’s announcement, Waters continued, “Additionally, we are proud of the accomplishment this important collaboration represents. The agreement and partnership with Ipsen is a validation of our proprietary discovery platform, ISP, and our drug development efforts. This deal is one of the larger deals struck in the Swedish biotech space in decades, which is a merit for all of us at IRLAB and to those who have supported the mesdopetam project to reach this milestone.”

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