Life sciences briefing: Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2008

TODAY’S HEADLINES:

Amira Pharma strikes GSK partnership on lung, heart drugs worth up to $425M – Amira Pharmaceuticals, a San Diego biotech focused on drugs for lung and heart problems, struck a partnership with GlaxoSmithKline potentially worth $425 million in upfront and milestone payments.

Amira is developing anti-inflammatory drugs based on its understanding of immune-system elements called eicosanoids. These fatty molecules are produced by white blood cells when foreign threats are perceived, triggering several different types of inflammation, which can damage healthy tissue when it’s prolonged by allergies or autoimmune disease.

Diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, atherosclerosis, arthritis and psoriasis are often the result. Amira aims to defuse the underlying inflammation caused by eicosanoids by inhibiting “upstream” molecules that are necessary for their production.

The company’s two lead candidates have entered early stage, phase I human tests. One compound targets asthma; Amira hasn’t identified which diseases the second drug is being tested in.

Under the partnership, GSK will have rights to develop and commercialize all of Amira’s compounds in its current development program, which are technically known as FLAP inhibitors (FLAP standing for 5-lipoxygenase-activating protein). In return, Amira will receive an undisclosed upfront payment, milestones related to development and potential tiered royalty payments.

logical-images-logo-150px.gifWolters Kluwer Health takes stake in Logical Images – Logical Images, a Rochester, N.Y., developer of medical image-analysis tools, sold a minority equity stake to Wolters Kluwer Health, a healthcare-information company in Conshohocken, Pa. The companies didn’t announce terms of the deal.

Logical Images makes visual healthcare tools for physicians and patients. Its products include VisualDx, a diagnostic tool designed to help physicians identify some 900 visually identifiable diseases, and VisualDxHealth, which does roughly the same thing for interested consumers. The companies said they intend to integrate VisualDx with Wolters’ product Clin-eguide, a “decision support” tool for physicians.

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