Drug giant GlaxoSmithKline is taking an equity stake, providing research funding and paying cash up front for rights to drug candidates being developed by Triangle-based Liquidia Technologies.

The deal was announced early Wednesday.

Specific financial terms were not disclosed.

However, in the announcement, Liquidia noted:

“Upfront payment, R&D funding, licensing, and development and regulatory milestone payments under this collaboration could total up to several hundred million dollars upon all contingent payments coming due.”

GSK, which operates its North American headquarters in RTP, gains exclusive rights to some potential products and research.

The company was launched nearly a decade ago based on research done by Dr. Joseph DeSimone, an inventor and entrepreneur who also teached at N.C. State and UNC Chapel Hill.

Luqidia is privately held and has raised more than $50 million in venture capital funding. It also has received $10 million in support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation plus funding worth several million dollars from federal agencies.

The company focuses on nanotechnology.

Liquidia’s agreement with GSK is “a broad, multi-year collaboration,” Liquidia said. The focus will be on vaccines and inhaled products based on Liquidia’s proprietary technology known as PRINT, or Particle Replication In Non-Wetting Templates.

Liquidia believes the technology has the potential to revolutionize drug development, the nanotechnology enabling the engineering of drug development and delivery.

“We are very pleased to have the opportunity to work with GSK, a company known for its commitment to scientific excellence, medicinal chemistry expertise and expansive library of proprietary compounds that could potentially benefit from Liquidia’s PRINT technology,” said Neal Fowler, Liquidia’s chief executive officer, in a statement.

“The strength of this collaboration is based on the strong and successful heritage of GSK’s vaccine and inhaled therapy franchises and the transformative particle engineering and manufacturing capabilities of Liquidia’s PRINT technology, which when combined, we believe will yield a next generation of life saving therapeutics,” he added.

While Liquidia did not disclose specific financial terms, the company said the agreement calls for:

  • An upfront payment, comprised of cash and equity
  • Research and development funding
  • Potential additional license fees
  • Development milestones
  • Royalties from resulting products produced by the GSK-Liquidia research

Liquidia does keep rights to pursue “certain respiratory and vaccine products” plus using PRINT for other products.

“I am looking forward to Liquidia and GSK scientists working together to explore the potential of Liquidia’s technology platform to our discovery and development portfolio,” said John Baldoni, senior vice president for Platform Technology & Science at GSK, in a statement.