Kythera Biopharmaceuticals Inc. has signed licensing agreements with Swiss drug maker Actelion Pharmaceuticals Ltd. and the University of Pennsylvania to develop a new treatment for hair loss.
The Westlake Village biotech’s agreement with Actelion gives Kythera worldwide rights to setipiprant, a clinical-stage oral drug that inhibits the prostaglandin D2 receptor. High levels of the receptor in the male scalp is associated with hair loss. In research studies, PGD2 inhibitors extended the growth phase of the hair cycle and promoted hair growth.
Actelion, based in Basel, could receive up to $27 million in potential development and regulatory milestone payments from Kythera, as well as sales royalties if setipiprant is successfully commercialized.
In a separate agreement with the Philadelphia school’s Penn Center for Innnovation, Kythera acquired rights to certain patents covering the use of PGD2 inhibitors for the treatment of male pattern baldness.
Kythera doesn’t have a commercial drug on the market but the company has drawn attention for its main pipeline drug, an injectable called ATX-101 that dissolves chin fat. The company has submitted an application for ATX-101 to the Food and Drug Administration, and expects a decision before July.
Kythera Chief Executive Keith Leonard said baldness treatments present a business opportunity similar to ATX-101, a drug consumers will want but insurers are unlikely to cover since it does not treat a serious medical condition.
“These two licenses build on Kythera’s focus on developing and commercializing high-value, self-pay aesthetic products that have the promise to yield high patient satisfaction and enhanced self-image,” he said
The company announced the agreements earlier this week. Shares closed up 62 cents, or nearly 2 percent, to $39.72 on the Nasdaq.