NORTH CHICAGO, Ill. and WALTHAM, Mass., Oct. 18, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- AbbVie (NYSE: ABBV), a research-based global biopharmaceutical company, and Morphic Therapeutic, a biotechnology company developing oral integrin therapies, announced today that the companies have entered into a research and development collaboration designed to advance a number of Morphic's oral integrin therapeutics for fibrosis-related indications.
Fibrosis occurs when chronic inflammation or persistent injury leads to the development of excessive connective tissue, which can lead to organ damage and impaired function. Fibrotic diseases can affect nearly all tissues and organ systems and, due to limited treatment options, can cause serious illness and death.
Morphic Therapeutic has developed a unique platform for designing integrin oral inhibitors to block TGF-β activation, thought to be a key approach to halt or reverse fibrosis, in a tissue-specific manner. The platform was developed through foundational collaborations with Morphic scientific founder Tim Springer and Schrödinger, Inc.
"We welcome the global scientific and clinical development expertise of AbbVie as a strategic collaborator and look forward to investigating together the role of integrin biology in the potential treatment of multiple devastating human diseases involving fibrosis," said Praveen Tipirneni, M.D., president and chief executive officer, Morphic Therapeutic. "Combined with our recent financing, we are in an excellent position to further the development of our pipeline and more fully extract value from what we believe is the world's only broad-based structure enabled integrin drug discovery platform."
"Fibrosis represents a major area of medical need as it can impact nearly every major organ system and has limited targeted treatments to address the underlying cause," said Lisa Olson, Ph.D., vice president, immunology discovery, AbbVie. "We believe that integrin biology could play an important role in the future treatment paradigm of serious immune-mediated diseases where fibrotic mechanisms contribute to the pathology. We are pleased to partner with the team at Morphic to develop therapies together for patients with these serious conditions."
Under the terms of the agreement, AbbVie will pay Morphic an upfront payment of $100 million for exclusive license options on product candidates directed at multiple targets. For each compound, Morphic will conduct R&D activities through the completion of Investigational New Drug (IND)-enabling studies, at which point AbbVie may pay a license fee to exercise its exclusive license option and assume responsibility for global development and commercialization. Morphic is also eligible for additional, undisclosed clinical and commercial milestone payments and tiered royalties on worldwide net sales for each compound. Morphic retains cost-sharing rights in the development of liver fibrosis indications, and may opt into paying a percentage of AbbVie's development costs in exchange for enhanced royalties. The transaction is subject to clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act.
Prior to this collaboration, AbbVie Ventures was an investor in Morphic Therapeutic's Series A and Series B financing.
Integrins are a ubiquitous family of receptors expressed on the surface of most human cells. Integrin signaling controls a wide range of cellular processes, including cell survival, cell cycle progression, immune system activation, cell differentiation and cell migration. Aberrant signaling contributes to a diverse array of human diseases, including each of Morphic Therapeutic's focus areas of fibrosis, autoimmune diseases and immuno-oncology.
Research in the Springer laboratory has demonstrated that, historically, compounds designed to turn off integrin activity inadvertently worked to promote it, leading to the subsequent failure of oral drug candidates directed at integrin targets. Morphic is leveraging a platform with the potential to develop oral integrin antagonists which avoids these inadvertent activities that have hindered previous development of effective oral integrin therapeutics.
AbbVie is a global, research and development-based biopharmaceutical company committed to developing innovative advanced therapies for some of the world's most complex and critical conditions. The company's mission is to use its expertise, dedicated people and unique approach to innovation to markedly improve treatments across four primary therapeutic areas: immunology, oncology, virology and neuroscience. In more than 75 countries, AbbVie employees are working every day to advance health solutions for people around the world. For more information about AbbVie, please visit us at www.abbvie.com. Follow @abbvie on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram.
About Morphic Therapeutic
Morphic Therapeutic is a biotechnology company developing a new generation of oral integrin therapies. Drawing on integrin biology breakthroughs from the lab of noted entrepreneur and scientific founder Tim Springer, Morphic has developed an exclusive platform to build on these discoveries, complemented by a partnership with computational chemistry leader Schrödinger, Inc., that facilitates the rapid and iterative design of clinical candidates. For more information, visit www.morphictx.com.
AbbVie Forward-Looking Statements
Some statements in this news release are, or may be considered, forward-looking statements for purposes of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. The words "believe," "expect," "anticipate," "project" and similar expressions, among others, generally identify forward-looking statements. AbbVie cautions that these forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially from those indicated in the forward-looking statements. Such risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, challenges to intellectual property, competition from other products, difficulties inherent in the research and development process, adverse litigation or government action, and changes to laws and regulations applicable to our industry. Additional information about the economic, competitive, governmental, technological and other factors that may affect AbbVie's operations is set forth in Item 1A, "Risk Factors," of AbbVie's 2017 Annual Report on Form 10-K, which has been filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. AbbVie undertakes no obligation to release publicly any revisions to forward-looking statements as a result of subsequent events or developments, except as required by law.