Roche in Cancer and Immunology Collaborations

24.07.2020 - Roche has announced two separate collaborations, one for an investigational cancer treatment and the other for the discovery of small molecule drugs for treating immune-mediated and neurological diseases.

The first deal is with US biopharma Blueprint Medicines, under which Roche subsidiary Genentech gains exclusive rights for the global co-development and commercialization of pralsetinib outside the US, excluding Greater China (mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan).

Pralsetinib is Blueprint Medicine’s investigational oral therapy for treating patients with RET-altered non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), medullary thyroid cancer (MCT) and other thyroid cancer types, as well as other solid tumors.

RET-activation fusions and mutations are key disease drivers in many cancer types and treatment options that selectively target these genetic alterations are limited.

Pralsetinib has also demonstrated tumor-agnostic potential, which Roche said expands its ongoing commitment to find new approaches for treating cancer in a more personalized way based on the genetic mutation of the disease, irrespective of the tumor site of origin.

Roche will give Blueprint Medicines an upfront cash payment of $675 million and will also take a $100 million equity stake in the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based firm. In addition, Blueprint is eligible to receive up to $927 million in various milestones along with royalties on net sales.

The companies also plan to expand development of pralsetinib in multiple treatment settings and explore the development of a next-generation RET inhibitor.

Under a second agreement, Roche is partnering Jnana Therapeutics for the discovery and preclinical development of small molecule drugs directed at the solute carrier (SLC) family of metabolite transporters for a broad set of targets across immunology and neuroscience.

SLC transporters are a class of more than 450 human membrane proteins that control the movement of metabolites in and out of cells and organs. SLCs ensure metabolites are present in the right place at the right time, which is crucial for health but often dysregulated in disease.

The collaboration will leverage Jnana’s RAPID cell-based, proprietary platform, which can screen small molecule libraries to identify novel modulators of any SLC transporter.

“This agreement with Roche highlights the value of our RAPID platform which is breaking new ground for targeting SLC transporters with a systematic, highly efficient approach – with the goal of realizing the potential of this rich target class to discover new medicines for patients,” said Jnana’s co-founder and chief scientific officer Joel Barrish.

Roche will pay an upfront cash sum of $40 million to Jnana, which is also eligible for further research funding, milestone and royalty payments that could reach an aggregated value exceeding $1 billion.

Jnana’s co-founder and CEO Joanne Kotz added that the Boston-based biotech will continue to develop its internal pipeline programs that target SLC transporters for diseases where patients have limited or no treatment options.