Deal with Parion, worth up to $1bn, gives firm worldwide rights to investigational treatments that complement Vertex’s existing cystic fibrosis drugs

Specialist pharmaceutical firm Vertex has struck a development deal with start-up Parion Sciences to develop Parion’s investigational drug candidates for respiratory diseases, including cystic fibrosis (CF). Vertex will pay $80 million (£52 million) up front, plus performance milestone payments worth up to around $1 billion, and royalties on any eventual sales.

Parion has one compound (P-1037) in Phase II clinical trials for cystic fibrosis, and others at earlier stages of development. P-1037 blocks epithelial sodium channels, which contribute to the buildup of viscous mucus on the cell surface of the lungs in CF patients. Vertex plans to set up another trial of P-1037 in combination with its own investigational CF drug cocktail Orkambi (ivacaftor and lumacaftor) in patients with the specific mutation in the chloride channel encoded by cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulatory (CFTR) gene that Orkambi can treat. Orkambi itself is pending approval in the US, after being recommended for approval by an advisory panel to the US Food and Drug Administration in May.