M&A

Giant Roche wades into the preclinical NLRP3 pool, bagging Jecure for their anti-inflammatory team at Genentech

You can now count the biopharma giant Roche among the growing number of players fascinated by the potential of NLRP3 inhibition.

James Sabry, Genentech

Their big California subsidiary Genentech has snapped up a little San Diego-based biotech called Jecure Therapeutics, which came out of quiet time with a $20 million launch round from Versant and a big appetite for NASH research. The venture group had been drawn in by an experienced biotech team that had built and sold Quanticel to Celgene for close to $485 million.

They’ve been keying off the lab work of scientific founder Ariel Feldstein, the division chief of gastroenterology at the UCSD School of Medicine and a top investigator in hepatology.

This time around, we don’t know what the private outfit went for. But with only a small amount bet so far by a single investor, even a big multiple for the investors could only amount to a bite-sized preclinical snack for the likes of Roche.

James Sabry, who’s now running the whole BD show at Roche/Genentech, says the acquisition builds on their “expertise in NLRP3 biology,” which has been put into the spotlight by a batch of upstarts looking to make a name for themselves.

Just a few days ago I covered the $46 million raise for Inflazome, a UK-based outfit that was looking to go upstream of the entire IL-1 beta pathway and hit the NLRP3 target in fighting inflammation. Novartis has scored some positive late-stage data on IL-1 for gout and cardio, helping to validate the pathway for the startups coming in from behind.

NodThera and IFM have also been making progress in this field, while there’s some preclinical info to suggest that an ultra-low carb ketogenic diet can also specifically hit NLRP3 for an anti-inflammatory response — a followup to the decades of research work that’s backed keto for pediatric epilepsy.


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