UK-based biotechnology company Autifony Therapeutics and Ireland-based Jazz Pharmaceuticals have signed an exclusive global licensing agreement, worth up to $770.5m.

The collaboration is focused on the discovery and development of two different ion channel targets that are important for the treatment of neurological disorders.

Under the terms of the agreement, Autifony will lead the drug discovery and preclinical development activities on the two ion channel targets.

Following the completion of the preclinical development, Jazz will lead all clinical development, manufacturing and regulatory activities and commercialisation.

Autifony will receive an upfront payment and is eligible to receive development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments across the two programmes, totalling up to $770.5m.

In addition, the British biotechnology company is eligible to receive royalties on net sales.

Autifony Therapeutics CEO Charles Large said: “We are excited to be working with Jazz Pharmaceuticals on two novel ion channel targets, on which we can bring to bear Autifony’s long-standing expertise in small molecule ion channel drug discovery and development.

“Jazz has an exceptional track record of rapidly advancing neuroscience development programmes and effectively commercializing novel therapies that offer improvements over current standards of care.”

Autifony is a spinout from the British drugmaker GSK, engaged in the development of novel pharmaceutical treatments for rare CNS disorders and other serious brain diseases.

The biotechnology company is leveraging its unique ion channel drug discovery platform to generate small molecule modulators that selectively target specific subtypes of ion channels.

Ion channels are membrane proteins that serve as gated pathways for the movement of ions across cell membranes and play an important role in several physiological functions.

Most of the diseases associated with defects in ion channel function are due to mutations in the genes encoding ion channel proteins, known as channelopathies.

The targeting of the ion channels will provide opportunities for precision medicine in diseases that have been difficult to treat in the past, said the British biotechnology company.