Advinus Therapeutics Pvt Ltd, the research-based pharmaceutical firm of Tata Enterprises, has signed a drug discovery and development collaboration with the US-based Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc (OMJPI), a member of Johnson and Johnson Family of Companies.

As per the agreement, Advinus will be responsible for drug discovery and early clinical development upto completion of phase-2a studies even as OMJPI will have an option to advance the drug candidates into late stage clinical trials and worldwide commercialisation of the molecules. Initially, the agreement will be on development of two targets and Advinus will receive an upfront payment and could receive milestone payments of up to US$ 247 million upon successful development.

“This is the biggest deal we are doing in terms of milestone payment. With this kind of deals we will be supporting the companies to come up with newer, safer and cost effective drugs for life threatening disease,” said Rashmi H Barbhaiya, chief executive officer and managing director, Advinus Therapeutics. The company is also eligible for royalties on the sales of any drug products resulting from the latest collaboration.

However, the company officials refused to reveal the therapeutic areas which are covered through the deal. “The deal is to develop drugs on novel targets and the deal has not specified on the disease areas to work on. We have kept it opportunistic and open as the partner company is aware about our areas of competencies and will get into a decision on this in further discussions,” said Kasim A Mookhtiar, chief scientific officer and senior vice president – drug discovery, Advinus. The primary focus of the company’s drug discovery efforts are in megabolic diseases and inflammatory diseases apart from its operations in developing drugs for neglected diseases like malaria.

“Advinus therapeutics is one of Tata’s venture to prove that we are looking forward for innovation as entrepreneurial venture. Advinus, with its current momentum of growth, should be a multi billion dollar enterprise in next five to six years,” said R Gopalakrishnan, chairman, Advinus Therapeutics and executive director, Tata Sons.

Advinus Therapeutics is the first of its kind company in India to offer end-to-end development services to the global pharmaceutical, agrochemical and biotechnology industries while creating long-term value through internal and collaborative drug discovery programmes, claims the company.