Swedish pharmaceutical company Vicore Pharma has signed an exclusive licence agreement with Japanese drugmaker Nippon Shinyaku to develop and market Vicore’s drug candidate C21 in Japan.

Under the terms of the agreement, Vicore will receive an upfront payment of $10m and is entitled to receive up to $275m in potential development and commercial milestone payments.

Vicore is eligible to receive tiered royalties based on annual net sales of C21 in Japan.

Nippon Shinyaku will get exclusive rights to develop and market C21 in Japan, while Vicore will retain all the rights to C21 in the remaining territories worldwide.

The Japanese drugmaker will be responsible for the development of C21 in Japan and will contribute to the global late-stage development of C21.

Nippon Shinyaku president and representative director Toru Nakai said: “IPF is a disease with a high unmet medical need.

“I am delighted to enter into an agreement with Vicore to develop this extremely promising therapy for the Japanese market. C21 will be an important addition to the Nippon Shinyaku portfolio of therapies for rare diseases.”

Vicore is a clinical-stage pharmaceutical company developing a potentially new class of drug candidates, angiotensin II type 2 receptor agonists (ATRAGs), with disease-modifying potential.

C21 is an oral ATRAG therapy intended for the treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).

The drug has been granted orphan drug designation by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

In the Phase 2a AIR study, C21 showed superior potential by safely and effectively stabilising or improving lung function in previously untreated individuals with IPF.

The company planning to commence Phase 2b ASPIRE study in the first half of this year.

Vicore CEO Ahmed Mousa said: “Nippon Shinyaku is an ideal partner that brings expertise in rare diseases together with a strong track record of successfully partnering with leading companies to bring innovative treatments to the Japanese market.

“We look forward to working with the Nippon Shinyaku team and leveraging their expertise to successfully develop and commercialize this product in Japan.”