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Roche invests $1bn in stapled peptides

Roche has entered into an agreement with Aileron Therapeutics for the development of stapled peptides, a new type of drug delivery technology

Roche has entered into an agreement with Aileron Therapeutics to develop and commercialise stapled peptides, a class of stabilised, synthetic peptides 'stapled' into a biologically active helical shape. This endows the peptides with drug-like properties, including efficient cell penetration, improved pharmacokinetics and high-affinity binding to large target protein surfaces.

One of the challenges facing drug developers is how to deliver medications to locations that are biologically difficult to access, such as inside cells. It is hoped that stapled peptides will be able to reach these targets as well as have an effect on protein-protein interactions, which control biological processes including disease.

Aileron's main concerns are cancer, infectious disease, metabolic disease and immune/inflammatory diseases. Priorities for Roche, which has a history with peptide therapeutics, are cancer, viruses, metabolism, central nervous system (CNS) and inflammation. Consequently, drug candidates developed using the new technology will be within at least one of Roche's five priority therapy areas, although specific targets have not yet been disclosed.

Aileron, which holds patent rights from Harvard and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, hopes to start clinical trials next year and began preliminary talks with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in June. The US company, which was founded in 2005 and has 40 employees, will receive a minimum of $25m from Roche in technology access fees and R&D support. Aileron could potentially earn up to $1.1bn (£714.2bn) in milestone payments if the treatments are successfully commercialised, and will receive royalties from future sales of any marketed products.

25th August 2010

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