GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK) is investing $18.6 million in U.S.-based Amicus Therapeutics (Nasdaq: FOLD) as part of a greater investment to combat Fabry disease, a rare disorder that affects some 10,000 people worldwide.

The deal increases GSK’s ownership stake in Amicus to 19.9 percent.

GSK and Amicus are working to develop a Fabry disease treatment. Amicus keeps U.S. development rights but GSK has worldwide rights.

“We have strengthened our relationship with Amicus through the expanded Fabry collaboration and additional equity investment in the Company,” said Marc Dunoyer, global head of GSK Rare Diseases. “Amicus has a very successful track record as our development partner and long-standing relationships with the Fabry community and we look forward to their leadership in the US commercialisation of several potential new medicines for patients with Fabry disease. This is an important step in our strategic vision, allowing us to undertake and fund an enlarged scientific program with a view to turning molecules into medicines for rare diseases faster and more effectively than ever before.”

The companies have committed to a three-part parallel development plan for Fabry treatment.

Fabry is an inherited disease that can lead to kidney failure and increase risk of heart disorders and stroke.

GSK maintains its U.S. headquarters in RTP.

[GSK ARCHIVE: Check out a decade of GSK stories as reported in WRAL Tech Wire.]