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Deuterium fuels $1 billion deal

Deuterium-containing drugs are at the centre of a $1 billion (£600 million) deal between GlaxoSmithKline and US biotech company Concert Pharmaceuticals.

Deuterium is a safe, non-radioactive hydrogen isotope abundant in sea water. It forms a strong chemical bond to a carbon atom of a molecule, substantially boosting a drug’s efficacy.

The deal will give Glaxo the rights to three Concert research programmes, including a protease inhibitor for HIV due to start phase I clinical trials and a preclinical drug for chronic kidney disease.

As well as an upfront $35 million, Concert will receive milestone payments and royalties from all deuterium products coming out of both companies.

Any programme that Glaxo chooses not to license will be open for Concert to further develop and commercialise.

Glaxo’s Patrick Vallance says that Concert’s approach to deuterium “has broad potential to enhance certain drug properties and result in innovative new medicines”.

Copyright Press Association 2009

Concert Pharmaceuticals