Waltham-based X-Chem expands drug discovery collaboration

File photo.
File photo.

X-Chem Inc., a Waltham-based biotechnology company focused on developing small molecule drugs, said Thursday that it is expanding its collaboration with AstraZeneca PLC, a large Anglo-Swedish drug maker with research operations in Massachusetts.

The companies entered into a previous collaboration in May of 2012. AstraZeneca recently elected to license three drug discovery programs resulting from that effort and opted to extend the initial research collaboration from two to five years. X-Chem will conduct drug discovery on at least 10 therapeutic targets per year going forward, X-Chem said in a press release.

Each X-Chem program licensed by AstraZeneca is eligible for pre-clinical, clinical, and sales milestones in the aggregate amount of up to $26 million. In addition, X-Chem will receive royalties for each successfully commercialized drug that results from a licensed collaboration program, the company said.

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According to X-Chem, it uses its proprietary high-diversity library and ultra-efficient screening platform to improve the rate and quality of small molecule lead discovery and expand the universe of ‘druggable’ targets.

In a statement, company chief executive Rick Wagner said: “X-Chem is revolutionizing the discovery of small molecule drugs. Our discovery engine is being successfully applied to a full spectrum of targets in multiple therapeutic areas. Our existing collaboration with AstraZeneca has demonstrated the superior performance of the X-Chem platform with its high rate of discovery of novel leads to challenging targets, but also its unparalleled speed and efficiency. This expanded agreement allows us to work together on new, exciting therapeutic programs with the potential to treat a broad array of diseases and conditions with significant unmet medical needs.”

A Globe story in March noted that AstraZeneca was planning to add 80 jobs at its Waltham research and development center over the next two years. At the time, the company’s Waltham head count was about 460 employees.