Roche acquires Santaris Pharma for $250M

The deal could be worth an additional $200 million if all milestones are met

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BASEL, Switzerland—Roche has announced that it will be acquiring privately held Santaris Pharma, a biopharmaceutical company based near Copenhagen, Denmark, that specializes in the development of next-generation antisense products. Per the terms of the agreement, Roche will pay Santaris Pharma shareholders $250 million up front, with the potential for additional contingent payments of up to $200 million if certain predetermined milestones are reached.
“Roche and Santaris Pharma have complementary capabilities that will help us realize breakthrough medicines,” J. Donald deBethizy, president and CEO of Santaris Pharma, commented in a statement. “The acquisition combines Santaris Pharma’s next-generation antisense technology and LNA expertise with Roche’s deep experience in disease biology, chemistry, drug safety, drug formulation, delivery and development.”
Santaris Pharma’s Locked Nucleic Acid (LNA) platform and drug discovery engine unites its proprietary LNA chemistry with its highly specialized and targeted drug discovery capabilities in order to deliver drug candidates against mRNA and microRNA. The platform is meant to bypass the limitations of previous antisense and siRNA technologies, offering small size, high binding affinity and metabolic stability to create a new class of drug candidates that can potently and specifically affect RNA targets in a variety of different tissues without complex delivery vehicles.
“Today there are many disease targets that are very challenging or even impossible to reach with small molecules or antibodies,” John C. Reed, head of Roche Pharma Research and Early Development, said in a press release. “We believe the LNA platform provides the means to efficiently discover and develop an important new class of medicines that may address the significant needs of patients across multiple therapeutic areas.”
The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions, and is expected to close this month. Once it does, Roche plans to maintain Santaris Pharma’s operations in Denmark, though the existing site will be renamed as the Roche Innovation Center Copenhagen.
In other recent news for Roche, the company has also announced that the European Commission has approved the use of Avastin in combination with paclitaxel, topotecan, or pegylated liposomal doxorubicin chemotherapy to treat recurrent ovarian cancer patients that have proven resistant to platinum-containing chemotherapy. The approval stems from the results of Roche’s Phase 3 AURELIA study in women with recurrent, platinum-resistant ovarian cancer who received either chemotherapy or chemotherapy combined with Avastin. Combining Avastin with chemotherapy ended up nearly doubling median progression-free survival from 3.4 months to 6.7 months. Avastin represents the first new treatment option for European women in more than 15 years for this type of cancer.
“European approval of Avastin for recurrent, platinum-resistant ovarian cancer is good news because Avastin can help women live longer without their cancer progressing, which is an important treatment goal in advanced disease,” said Dr. Sandra Horning, chief medical officer and head of Global Product Development at Roche. “Avastin is the first biologic medicine approved by the EU for women with this difficult-to-treat disease.”
SOURCE: Roche press release

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