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Alba deal worth up to $325 million

Baltimore startup works with British company on gastrointestinal treatment

by Steve Berberich | Staff Writer |

Alba Therapeutics Corp. of Baltimore has signed a licensing deal worth up to $325 million with Shire plc of Hampshire, England, to develop and commercialize its first drug candidate to reach mid-stage clinical trials.

The licensing deal, Alba’s first, brings financial security and validation of its technology, said Bernard McDonald, Alba’s associate director of intellectual property. Alba, a University of Maryland spinoff, was named 2006 Maryland life sciences Incubator Company of the Year by the Maryland Business Incubation Association and Maryland Technology Development Corp. The young company, with 10 drug candidates in its pipeline for immune-based disorders, is planning to double its space at the university’s biopark in Baltimore early next year.

Under the deal, the two companies will co-develop AT-1001, Alba’s lead drug for gastrointestinal disorders. Alba gets rights to commercialize the drug in the United States and Japan; Shire gets those rights elsewhere.
Alba can receive more than $80 million after certain milestones are met for treating gastrointestinal indications, then payments of more than $40 million per indication if the collaboration is expanded beyond gastrointestinal indications. Alba is also eligible to receive up to $220 million in sales-based milestones, as well as tiered royalties.

The two will share equally in development costs for global approval of AT-1001 after completion of two phase 2 studies for celiac disease.
The deal ‘‘means a great deal to us,” McDonald said. ‘‘It is a validation of our technology, our research development plans and everything we have done so far.”

Shire is a global pharmaceutical company with revenues of $1.8 billion reported for 2006.