The move is part of the Basel-based firm's efforts to diversify
beyond its expertise in cancer by developing treatments for
Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia as well as multiple sclerosis,
among other neurodegenerative disorders.
Versant will provide an undisclosed amount of equity financing to
the company, while Roche will fund the research based on a series of
milestones, the two said in a statement.
Roche has an option to buy the partnership, dubbed Inception 5,
should a first lead compound be filed as an investigational new drug
Inception 5 will research multiple molecular targets for
remyelination that have already been identified, building a
remyelination screening platform developed by investigators at the
University of California, Roche said.
Multiple sclerosis is an incurable and unpredictable disease, whose
cause is still largely undetermined.
Its symptoms, including blurred vision, loss of balance, fatigue and
paralysis, can range from relatively benign to devastating as the
communication between the brain and other parts of the body is
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The condition, which affects over 400,000 people in the United
States, is twice as likely to afflict women than men, according to
the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation.
(Reporting By Katharina Bart, editing by Louise Heavens)
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