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Roche makes $1.7bn oncology acquisition

Takes over Seragon and its pipeline of investigational breast cancer treatments
Roche Basel Switzerland

Roche today announced a deal worth up to $1.7bn to acquire the oncology-focused biotech Seragon Pharmaceuticals and a promising pipeline of investigational cancer medicines.

Switzerland-based Roche is the world's leading pharma company in terms of global oncology revenues and is attempting to strengthen its grip on that position with the deal to take control of a portfolio of potential treatments for hormone receptor-positive breast cancer.

The drugs in this portfolio are all next-generation oral selective oestrogen receptor degraders (SERDs) – a class of medicine that is designed to target the oestrogen receptor, a factor in the growth and survival of tumours in around half of female breast cancer patients.

SERDs both bind to the oestrogen receptor to limit hormone action and stimulate structural changes at a molecular level to degrade the receptor. By working in this way, SERDs circumvent the problem of resistance to antihormonal therapies.

San Diego-based Seragon has identified a number of SERDs that have the potential to be medicines, including lead candidate ARN-810, which is in phase I clinical trials for patients who have hormone receptor-positive breast cancer and have failed existing hormonal treatments.

According to Roche, this pipeline of products complements the breast cancer programmes of its biotech division Genentech, which will assume control of Seragon.

“We believe these investigational oral SERDs could one day redefine the standard of care for hormone receptor-positive breast cancer,” said Dr Richard Scheller, head of research and early development at Genentech.

The full terms of the deal will see Genentech make an upfront payment of $725m plus a further $1bn depending on the success of Seragon's portfolio. It is expected to close in the third quarter of 2014.

Seragon was only created last year when it was spun out from cancer drug specialist Aragon Pharmaceuticals after that company was acquired by Johnson & Johnson.

Article by
Thomas Meek

2nd July 2014

From: Research

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