UPDATED: Singapore's ASLAN Pharmaceuticals expands work with Spain's Almirall on ASLAN003

Singapore-based ASLAN Pharmaceuticals has expanded a licensing deal with Spain's Almirall for candidate ASLAN003 to oncology, allowing it to possibly move beyond preclinical data to explore new indications as a monotherapy or in combinations.

The original licensing agreement for ASLAN003, or LAS186323, in 2012 saw the candidate as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. That candidate is currently in Phase I trials.

Under the expanded pact, according to a press release, ASLAN now gets global commercial and development rights on all nontopical and nondermatological indications including oncology for the small molecule enzyme DHODH inhibitor.

The specific financial terms were not disclosed, but the release said Almirall would be eligible for milestone payments and royalties pending the attainment of development and regulatory goals and commercialization.

ASLAN updated the amount raised in Series C financing to $43 million, from a December figure of $34 million, in a release sent Jan. 7. The series was led by Singapore sovereign wealth fund subsidiary Accuron, placing the biotech in a stronger position to develop leading Phase II candidate ASLAN001.

The additional cash included investment from new institutional investor MVP Capital Partners, in addition to the new investors and existing investors previously announced, ASLAN said in the release.

The candidate to treat cholangiocarcinoma, gastric cancer, and breast cancer won a U.S. Food and Drug Administration orphan designation earlier this year, enabling the company developing immunotherapies and targeted agents for Asia-prevalent tumor types to rope in South Korea's Hyundai Pharmaceutical in its first co-development agreement in November.

The company is reportedly eyeing a listing in either Asia or the United States on the Nasdaq, with no time frame set.

In addition to Accuron, new investors include Tianda Pharmaceuticals and Haitong International in addition to existing investors Morningside, Bioveda, Cenova and Sagamore Bioventures.

Last year, ASLAN secured $22 million in Series B financing led by Shanghai-based Cenova Ventures, which joined Morningside Group and XinChen Ventures with BioVeda Capital and Sagamore Bioventures to fund ongoing clinical development of ASLAN's portfolio.

- here's the release (PDF)

Read more on