Scynexis has found a new partner to develop and commercialize an antifungal compound whose rights Merck (NYSE:MRK) returned to the Durham company earlier this year.
The deal with Russia-based R-Pharm gives the company rights to SCY-078 in Russia. Privately-held Scynexis will receive an upfront payment and is entitled to receive payments on development and commercialization milestones, plus royalties. No additional financial details were disclosed.
SCY-078 was part of a 2002 license and research agreement between Merck and Scynexis. At the time of the agreement, the compound was called MK-3118. The compound is a semi-synthetic derivative of the natural product enfumafungin. It’s in a class of antifungal agents called glucan synthase inhibitors that work by blocking an enzyme in fungi. While glucan synthase inhibitors have been effective in hospitals, they are currently available only as intravenous drugs. Merck and Scynexis had been developing the drug candidate as a pill and took it as far as phase I clinical trials.
Following a review of its drug portfolio earlier this year, Merck said that it didn’t want to pursue development of the compound and would return the rights to Scynexis.But R-Pharm apparently sees potential in SCY-078 as an alternative to intravenous dosing.
“As the first oral glucan synthase inhibitor, SCY-078 could prove very useful in markets where intravenous dosing options have resulted in undertreatment or treatment limitations,” R-Pharm President and Chairman Alexey Repik said in a statement.
Besides rights to the Russian market, R-Pharm gains development and commercialization rights to SCY-078 for The Commonwealth of Independent States and Turkey. Scynexis retains rights to the compound in the Americas, Europe and Asia.