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AstraZeneca Working with Eolas Therapeutics on Anti-Addiction Drug

Eolas Therapeutics, a Carlsbad, CA-based startup developing new drugs for treating addiction, said it has signed a global licensing and partnership agreement with AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN) to advance development of its experimental drug, designed to block a neuropeptide associated with addiction to nicotine and stimulants such as cocaine, opiates, and alcohol.

Details concerning the deal were not disclosed in a statement today, although Eolas says potential revenue could eventually exceed $145 million, including upfront and milestone payments, as well as royalties from future commercial sales. Founded in 2012, the company is unrelated to Tyler, TX-based Eolas, a bioinformatics company.

Eolas Therapeutics says it received a Blueprint Neurotherapeutics (BPN) grant from the National Institutes of Health to advance its lead drug candidate, an orexin-1 receptor antagonist for smoking cessation (and for treating other addictions) from the preclinical stage through early clinical trials.

The company says it is the first BPN development program to move from concept to commercial licensing. “Our two companies share a vision for greatly improving the lives of patients affected by addiction and other neurological disorders,” said Albert Man, the founder and CEO of Eolas Therapeutics.

“The goal of the BPN is to speed the practical application of promising neuroscience projects by supporting early-stage research that will attract industry support,” said Rajesh Ranganathan, an NIH director overseeing the BPN program for the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, in the company’s statement. The Eolas-AstraZeneca deal “shows that the BPN strategy is working and that combining the strengths and capabilities of industry and academia can accelerate research,” Ranganathan said.