Mesoblast’s drug candidate, MPC-06-ID, is currently in Phase III trials for the treatment of chronic lower back pain due to degenerative disc disease in previously treated patients.
Grünenthal will pay $150m (€136m) upfront to gain access to the potential treatment, with over $1bn ($909m) reserved in milestone payments for the late-stage candidate.
In return, the German company will gain exclusive commercialization rights to MPC-06-ID in Europe and Latin America.
Mesoblast is currently running a Phase III trial in the US, which is expected to complete in 2020. The partners will collaborate to reach a study design for a confirmatory Phase III in Europe. It is expected that the results from both trials will be submitted to support approvals in the US and Europe.
In terms of the treatment’s manufacture, as an allogeneic or ‘off-the-shelf’ treatment the mesenchymal precursor cells can be ‘significantly expanded’ in culture and batch-to-batch reproducibility can be attained, according to the companies.
Grünenthal’s CEO, Gabriel Baertschi, said, “By teaming up with Mesoblast for the next generation of pain therapies for chronic low back pain due to degenerative disc disease, we are diligently executing our strategy: leveraging promising new therapeutic modalities and addressing patients with high unmet medical needs.”
Beyond reducing inflammation, the companies state that the cell therapy could contribute to the regeneration of physiological disc tissue.
Grünenthal’s current portfolio of pain medication treatments are focused primarily on traditional small molecule options, such as Tramal (tramadol) and Transtec (buprenorphine).