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Cytokinetics-Astellas Agree to Develop Muscle Treatments

Cytokinetics Inc. and Astellas Pharma Inc. said they agreed to a deal worth as much as $490 million plus royalties to develop drugs for muscle weakness.

Astellas, Japan’s second-largest drugmaker, may pay South San Francisco, California-based Cytokinetics as much as $40 million in the first two years of the deal, plus an additional potential $450 million tied to development and commercial goals, the companies said today in a statement.

The deal gives Tokyo-based Astellas exclusive rights to CK-2127107, a Cytokinetics drug in the first stage of clinical trials, for indications other than neuromuscular disorders such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. The companies also will work together to find new potential therapies.

The partnership will explore treatments for diseases associated with muscle weakness and wasting, which could include sarcopenia, an age-related condition, and cachexia, loss of muscle mass due to heart failure, cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Cytokinetics Chief Executive Officer Robert Blum said.

These problems affect “many millions of patients,” Blum said in a telephone interview. “Currently there’s nothing pharmaceutically for these patients to improve muscle performance.”

Cytokinetics gained 53 percent last week after the company said it expanded its relationship with Amgen Inc. to develop drugs for heart failure. The company also has a drug for ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, in the second stage of testing.

Cytokinetics fell 5.1 percent to $2.05 at the close yesterday in New York. The shares have tripled this year. Astellas declined 1.6 percent to 4,990 yen yesterday in Tokyo and has gained 29 percent this year. The drugmaker is the second largest in Japan by market value, after Takeda Pharmaceutical Co.

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