February 10, 2012

Mass High Tech

Zalicus, Hydra team up on pain treatment

Zalicus Inc., the biopharmaceutical company formerly known as CombinatoRx, has teamed up with Cambridge neighbor Hydra Biosciences Inc. to move forward Zalicus’ pain treatment candidates.
 
The two companies said in a release that they would be collaborating in a deal that would see Zalicus (Nasdaq: ZLCS) pay Hydra an upfront payment and then fund research and development for the target candidates at Hydra for a two-year period, although no financial details of the deal were disclosed.
 
Because of the deal, Zalicus will be closing its research operations in Vancouver, British Columbia, which means it will be cutting its overall work force by 28 percent.
 
Zalicus brings its portfolio of preclinical ion channel product candidates to the collaboration, and Hydra adds it experience in ion channel discovery and preclinical drug development, the companies said. Ultimately, getting a pain treatment based on ion channel drug candidates into clinical stage development is the goal of the deal. Not included in the deal is Zalicus’ ion channel modulators currently in Phase 1 clinical development for pain, including Z-160, an N-type calcium channel blocker and Z944, a novel T-type calcium channel blocker. Zalicus will also hold onto all intellectual property and commercial rights to its product candidates.
 
In June 2011, Zalicus, which also is working on anti-inflammatory treatments, began a Phase 2b clinical trial of its rheumaoid arthritis treatment, Synavive.  To assist the trial and the drug candidate’s advancement, Zalicus took in $8.5 million of its $20 million secured credit facility with Oxford Finance.
 
Last month Hydra Biosciences and Cubist Pharmaceuticals Inc. (Nasdaq: CBST) said they plan to start a Phase 1 clinical trial for an experimental pain and inflammation drug on which they are collaborating, triggering a $5 million milest