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Japanese drug firm Astellas Pharma and Cytokinetics have teamed to develop small-molecule skeletal muscle activators. South San Francisco-based Cytokinetics could bring in more than $40 million in milestone and research payments in the first two years of the pact and reap up to $450 million more if drug candidates reach the market. As part of the deal, Astellas gains rights to codevelop CK-2127107, an activator of the fast skeletal muscle troponin complex, now in Phase I studies as a muscle disease treatment. Cytokinetics retains rights to tirasemtiv, a fast skeletal troponin activator in Phase II studies for the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
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