HemoShear Therapeutics, Inc., a privately held clinical stage biotechnology company, has earned a milestone payment for the advancement of potential lead product candidates against a second target for the treatment of gout under its collaboration with Horizon Therapeutics plc (Nasdaq: HZNP). This milestone marks the fifth payment that HemoShear has earned in accordance with the Horizon exclusive drug discovery agreement established in January 2019.
“In three years, HemoShear has identified two novel therapeutic targets and generated lead compounds for these two completely different strategies to potentially treat gout,” said Robert Stoffel, PhD, vice president, research at Horizon. “Gout is often associated with elevated uric acid levels and data from the REVEAL-TxTM platform indicates that these programs have the potential to lower uric acid levels. We look forward to the ongoing work on potential candidates selective to a second target.”
“By combining Horizon’s expertise in gout with HemoShear’s drug discovery capabilities, we are breaking new ground with the early-stage characterization of two novel potential approaches to lowering uric acid levels,” said Ryan Feaver, PhD, executive director and head of exploratory biology at HemoShear. “Our REVEAL-TxTM drug discovery platform has been a key factor in achieving this milestone and in the success of the collaboration, aimed at delivering first-in-class modulators for both programs.”
Under the terms of the agreement, HemoShear received an upfront payment and R&D funding, and Horizon received exclusive access to HemoShear’s proprietary disease modeling platform, to discover potential new therapeutics for gout. Successful development and commercialization of multiple therapies by Horizon would make HemoShear eligible to receive milestone payments of potentially more than $500 million plus royalties. Further financial terms were not disclosed.
Gout is a chronic, progressive inflammatory form of arthritis affecting more than nine million people in the United States that is caused by excess uric acid in the body and needs to be managed aggressively. If uric acid levels in the blood remain elevated, crystals can form and deposit in the joints, which can lead to severe pain, tenderness, stiffness, swelling and joint damage. In addition to the joint damage, urate crystals can also deposit in other organs of the body, and if left unmanaged, gout can lead to significant tissue damage. Uncontrolled gout occurs when people living with gout continue to have high levels of uric acid and gout symptoms despite the use of standard oral urate-lowering therapies.