At the annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, major CRO Charles River Laboratories and Japanese Big Pharma Takeda announced a new preclinical tie-up.

The pair will “launch multiple integrated programs across Takeda’s four core therapeutic areas,” they said in a statement, namely: oncology, gastroenterology, neuroscience and rare disease, with Charles River being tasked with moving its preclinical candidates into the clinic and ultimately into the hands of patients. 

This will be done by tapping Charles River’s drug discovery expertise and scientific bench, with the CRO using its end-to-end drug discovery and safety assessment platform to “explore potential therapeutic approaches and progress these programs towards candidate status.”

Takeda, which has been ramping up the deals with biotechs in recent years to help shore up its pipeline and progress with its core focus, will then have the option to push on with these early candidates through their clinical development pipeline.

Takeda will pay Charles River a one-time, upfront fee to establish the collab, though both stayed mum on what that dollar figure was. They did say Charles River will be in line to nab development payments with a potential value of over $50 million per program in preclinical and clinical milestones for those that will be put forward to a regulator.

The pact also includes additional potential commercial milestones of up to $120 million plus royalties on launched products, Takeda said. 

James Foster, chairman, president and CEO at Charles River, said: “We are pleased to expand our relationship with Takeda, who shares our commitment to bring innovative, safe, and effective medicines to patients as quickly and efficiently as possible. We expect the expertise of Charles River and Takeda will prove to be a powerful combination in delivering novel drug candidates.”

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