Array BioPharma strikes license deal

Boulder’s Array BioPharma Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRY) agreed this week to license the exclusive worldwide rights to its toll-like receptor (TLR) program to San Diego’s VentiRx Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but Array will receive an equity stake in VentiRx as well as an upfront payment, potential milestone payments and royalties on product sales. Array also gets an option to acquire a 50% ownership in all VentiRx clinical oncology products developed under the deal.

TLRs are proteins that recognize microbes that have breached physical barriers such as the skin or intestinal tract. They are believed to play a key role in activating immune system responses. VentiRx plans to build upon Array’s research to develop novel drugs that either activate or block TLRs in the body. TLR-based drugs are considered a promising approach to treating a variety of ailments, including cancer, hepatitis, lupus and other autoimmune diseases.

Array is focused mainly on developing drugs for the treatment of cancer and inflammatory disease. The company has identified several promising drug candidates, some of which have been licensed to AstraZeneca and Genentech for further development and testing.

The company, which reported a $45 million loss on sales of about $40 million during the year ended Dec. 31, was founded in 1998 and employs nearly 300 people, including more than 220 scientists. Banc of America analyst David Witzke recently identified Array shares as his top biotech pick for 2007.

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