GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Prosensa, the Dutch based biopharmaceutical company focusing on RNA modulating therapeutics, today announced that they have entered into an exclusive worldwide collaboration for the development and commercialisation of RNA based therapeutics for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). DMD is a severely debilitating childhood neuromuscular disease that affects one in 3,500 newborn boys. The alliance was established under GSK’s Centre of Excellence for External Drug Discovery (ceedd), which seeks to collaborate with companies at the leading edge of highly innovative and transformative science. The scope of the alliance includes four RNA-based compounds intended to treat specific, but different, subpopulations of patients suffering from DMD. Under the terms of the agreement, GSK will obtain an exclusive worldwide license to develop and commercialise Prosensa’s lead compound, PRO051, as a potential treatment for DMD. PRO051, the first molecule with this mechanism of action, acts by skipping exon 51 of the dystrophin gene. Mutations in the dystrophin gene result in the absence of normal dystrophin protein, which is necessary for proper muscle cell function. GSK’s Neurosciences Medicines Development Centre will continue to progress the further development of PRO051 in collaboration with Prosensa. GSK will fund all costs associated with the further clinical development of PRO051. In addition, GSK has exclusive options to license three more RNA-based compounds targeting additional DMD exons. In these cases, GSK’s option rights will be triggered by successful study completion. The financial terms include a GBP £16 million (USD $25 million) upfront payment. Furthermore, Prosensa is eligible to receive up to GBP £412 million (USD $655 million) in milestones payments if all four compounds are successfully developed and is also entitled to double-digit royalties on product sales. Prosensa will retain commercial participatory rights, and has an option to expand its commercial rights in certain European countries on products arising under the collaboration. Hans Schikan, CEO of Prosensa said, “We are delighted by GSK’s commitment to develop and commercialise our promising lead compound, PRO051. This alliance will not only speed-up the further development of PRO051, but will also accelerate the progress of our complementary DMD therapeutics, allowing us to reach a broader patient population. Our joint commitment to serve Duchenne patients provides a solid basis to achieve our goal to improve the lives of these boys and their families.” “We are always looking for inspiring science to take forward and are incredibly excited at the prospect of working with Prosensa to bring a vital new treatment to patients with DMD,” said Dr. Christoph Westphal, CEO of Sirtris, a GSK company, and SVP and Head of ceedd, GSK.