Roche to buy US biotech group Adheron Therapeutics in a $580 mn deal

Swiss drugmaker Roche yesterday struck a deal to buy US biotech group Adheron Therapeutics in a deal worth up to $580 million in order to expand its portfolio of drugs to treat diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.

Under the deal approved by the board of both companies, Adheron's shareholders will get $105 million in cash up front plus up to $475 million if the company achieves certain milestones.

Based in California, privately-held Adheron Therapeutics has developed a pioneering technology that disrupts immune cell adhesion through a cell surface protein called Cadherin-11 in order to develop potential treatments for a variety of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and fibrotic diseases.

Its lead drug, SDP051, a humanised monoclonal antibody targeting Cadherin-11, has completed Phase 1 of clinical development.

''We are very excited about this acquisition, as it is an important step towards the development of breakthrough medicines in the area of inflammation and fibrosis,'' said Hari Kumar, CEO of Adheron Therapeutics.

''This deal brings together Adheron's deep understanding of the underlying science of Cadherin-11 with Roche's vast experience in researching and developing next generation medicines. We are proud to move our promising investigational medicine to the next level and into a new home at Roche,'' he added.

Founded in 2006 as Synovex Corporation, Adheron Therapeutics therapeutic program is based on pioneering work done in the laboratory of Dr. Michael Brenner at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

In 2013, Synovex was relaunched as Adheron Therapeutics and is lead by industry veterans Bob Baltera and Hari Kumar, both formerly of Amira Pharmaceuticals.

Adheron Therapeutics is funded by a group of venture investors including, Health Care Ventures, MedImmune Ventures, Amgen Ventures, SROne and Partners Innovation Fund.

Roche is the world's largest biotech company, and specialises in oncology, immunology, infectious diseases, ophthalmology and neuroscience.

Roche is also the leader in in-vitro diagnostics and tissue-based cancer diagnostics, and a frontrunner in diabetes management. Twenty-four medicines developed by Roche are included in the World Health Organisation Model Lists of Essential Medicines, among them life-saving antibiotics, antimalarials and chemotherapy.