buys rights to Oryzon's cancer-suppressing gene drug
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[April 07, 2014]
— Roche has bought the
rights to an experimental drug from Spain's Oryzon Genomics that can
switch on genes to block cancer growth, as the Swiss drugmaker looks
to maintain its dominance in the lucrative field of oncology.
The world's largest maker of cancer drugs will pay
Barcelona-based Oryzon $21 million in upfront and near-term
milestone payments and could pay out more than $500 million if the
company meets other goals, it said in a statement on Monday.
The deal will give Roche rights to Oryzon's experimental drug
ORY-1001 which was granted orphan drug status by European health
regulators last year and is currently in early-stage clinical
testing for acute myeloid leukaemia.
Roche will also pay up to mid-double digit percentage royalties if
the drug makes it to market.
The Basel-based firm has notched up billions of dollars in sales
from its top-selling biotech cancer medicines MabThera, Herceptin
and Avastin, which consist of complex proteins derived from living
Over the past year, Roche has won approval for improved versions of
these older drugs and is also developing experimental medicines that
harness the body's immune system to fight cancer — a hot area for
many drug companies at the moment.
Under Monday's deal, the two companies will also look at developing
other similar drugs to treat cancer and blood diseases using
epigenetics, the study of the mechanisms that activate and
de-activate genes, without altering the DNA itself.
ORY-1001 works by blocking an enzyme called Lysine Specific
Demethylase 1 (LSD1), which turns off genes and has been identified
as playing a role in certain types of leukaemia.
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The deal includes a two-year collaboration to develop LSD1
inhibitors at Roche's Translational Clinical Research Centre in New
Also on Monday, Roche said it has agreed to buy privately-held U.S.
diagnostics company IQuum in a deal worth up to $450 million to
strengthen its molecular diagnostics business.
(Reporting by Caroline Copley, editing by Ben Hirschler)
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