Tolero Pharmaceuticals has signed a licence agreement with MannKind to develop and commercialise Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitors for the treatment of haematological malignancies and inflammatory diseases.

Under the agreement, Tolero will pay MannKind upfront and milestone payments linked to the development, approval and commercialisation of products, with a potential total value of approximately $130m.

MannKind, which will receive tiered royalties on sales of products and a percentage of the sublicensing revenue, has an option to reacquire the rights to the programme under pre-specified terms until 60 days after the completion of the first phase 1 study.

MannKind will assume responsibility for developing and commercialising products, if the company exercises the option, and Tolero would then be entitled to receive the milestone payments, royalties and sublicensing revenues specified in the agreement.

Dallin Anderson, Tolero chairman and president, said BTK currently represents one of the most exciting therapeutic targets in oncology and the company believes that the collaborative approach to targeting BTK may uncover some new utilities not yet fully realised.

Tolero founder David Bearss said that BTK has already been shown to be a validated clinical target in multiple disease settings.

"We believe that MannKind has developed a series of novel compounds with unique mechanisms of action that may lead to important treatments for cancer and autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis," Bearss added.

Tolero is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of therapeutics to treat and cure cancer and other life-threatening diseases and MannKind focuses on the discovery, development and commercialisation of therapeutic products for patients with diseases such as diabetes and cancer.