Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and Rigel Pharmaceuticals today signed an exclusive global license deal to develop and commercialise Rigel's late-stage investigational drug for arthritis.
South San Francisco, California-based Rigel, is a clinical-stage drug development company that discovers and develops small-molecule drugs for the treatment of diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, thrombocytopenia and asthma, as well as in cancer.
It has also partnered with Daiichi Sankyo, Johnson & Johnson, and Merck to develop cancer drugs and with Pfizer on treatments for asthma.
AstraZeneca and Rigel have inked exclusive worldwide license agreement for the global development and commercialisation of fostamatinib disodium (R788), Rigel's late-stage investigational product for rheumatoid arthritis and additional indications.
Fostamatinib disodium, which has completed a comprehensive phase 2 programme, is the furthest developed oral Spleen Tyrosine Kinase (Syk) inhibitor being evaluated for RA. Inhibiting Syk is thought to block the intracellular signaling of various immune cells implicated in the destruction of bone and cartilage which is characteristic of RA.
RA is a systemic autoimmune inflammatory disease, which causes damage to the joints and other organs, affecting approximately 1 in 100 people. It is a major cause of disability and it is also associated with reduced life expectancy, especially if not adequately treated.
Despite current treatment options, many patients still experience pain, worsening of joint destruction and disability, so new treatment options are needed. The RA market was estimated to be approximately $13 billion globally in 2009, having grown from $1.3 billion in 1998.