Deals

PureTech grabs up to $36M from Roche to research milk-inspired delivery platform

The quiet R&D work that PureTech Health has been putting into its lymphatics and immune cell trafficking programs is paying off with an announcement this morning that Roche is handing up to $36 million to see if PureTech’s Mammalian-derived exosome platform tech can create oral formulations of Roche’s antisense therapies.

Daphne Zohar

That potential figure covers upfront payments, research support and early preclinical milestones. And beyond that, Roche has also promised more than $1 billion in store for PureTech if it reaches certain development and sales milestones. There’s no word on how many programs they are expecting to pursue under the agreement.

Bharatt Chowrira, president and chief of business and strategy, told me via email that the collaboration is focused around Roche’s LNA antisense oligonucleotide technology and the pharma giant has the option to expand the scope of the collaboration to include other antisense oligonucleotides. Meanwhile, PureTech Health has the freedom to pursue use of the platform for administration of other nucleic acids as well as peptides, proteins and small molecules.

PureTech shares (LON: $PRTC) surged 6.25% on the announcement.

Bharatt Chowrira

While delivery of antisense oligonucleotides — which treats genetic disorders by targeting the mRNA — is often made difficult by the acidic stomach and enzyme-rich gastrointestinal tract, PureTech believes harnessing milk’s innate function to transport complex biological molecules will provide the a potential way out.

Headquartered in Boston but listed in London, PureTech founder and CEO Daphne Zohar is known for setting up biotech upstarts dedicated to a few programs. Last year, Novartis handed over a pair of Phase IIb-ready drugs to lay the foundation for resTORbio, the anti-aging startup that raised an $85 million IPO at the beginning of the year.

Instead of being housed under a new affiliate, however, the lymphatic and immune cell trafficking programs will be consolidated into an internal pipeline division codenamed Ariya. CSO Joseph Bolen will be shepherding the unit while working with partners on specific projects, Chowrira wrote.


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