Parion Sciences, a Durham start-up with no products on the market, has signed the biggest deal in its 16-year history: a licensing agreement worth up to $1.17 billion with Vertex Pharmaceuticals, a publicly-traded company based in Boston.
The two companies said Friday they will collaborate to develop an inhaler that stimulates hydration and clears out the sticky mucus clogging the lungs of cystic fibrosis patients.
Under the deal, privately-owned Parion will receive an up-front payment of $80 million and nearly $1.1 billion in milestone payments for development of the drug for cystic fibrosis and other pulmonary conditions. The treatment is currently undergoing Phase 2 clinical trials on 120 people in the United States.
Cystic fibrosis affects about 75,000 people in North America, Europe and Australia. The median age of death for patients suffering from the disease is in the mid-20s.
Parion’s treatment is designed to slow the advance of the disease and extend the life of patients.
Parion, with 14 full-time employees, has an unusual financing model that involves no investment of venture capital, said CEO Paul Boucher.
The company’s funding comes from licensing agreements and other corporate partnerships, grants from the National Institutes of Health and support from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Vertex is an 1,800-employee company founded in 1989.