Roche inks $308.6M collaboration deal with Lead Pharma, focusing on immune-mediated disease
Roche is wading deeper into the field of immune-mediated disease with a €260 million ($308.6 million) collaboration deal with Netherlands-based biotech Lead Pharma.
The giant pharma is putting down €10 million ($11.8 million) upfront to work with Lead over the next few years on researching a small molecule candidate that inhibits portions of the T helper 17 (TH17) cell pathway, which could treat a variety of autoimmune diseases. Once a preclinical candidate is chosen, it’ll be up to Roche to develop and commercialize it.
Lead stands to make up to €260 million total, counting the upfront payment and research, development, regulatory and sales milestones — plus an undisclosed amount in global royalties.
“We are committed to advancing innovative science and transformative medicines for people affected by different immune mediated diseases,” Roche Pharma Partnering global head James Sabry said in a statement.
The news comes a little less than a year after Roche inked a $792.5 million deal with immune-mediated disease-focused Rheos Medicines, based in Cambridge, MA. Similar to the Lead Pharma deal, Rheos agreed to conduct research and drug discovery efforts, and Roche will get the option to exclusively license a number of the programs later on. Rheos got $42.5 million upfront, and is eligible for $90 million in research and preclinical milestones, plus another $660 million in development, regulatory and sales milestones — and, of course, tiered royalties.
Studies have linked multiple autoimmune diseases — including psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, psoriatic arthritis and ulcerative colitis — to the TH17 pathway, according to Lead Pharma. TH17 cells produce pro-inflammatory cytokines, including IL-17A, IL-17F, and IL-22. What Lead is trying to do is limit certain components of the pathway to treat those immune disorders.
“It’s certainly a very key … partnership,” Lead Pharma CEO Frans van den Berg said of the Roche partnership, adding that the funding will support pipeline development. “Research will define which indication will be the lead indication,” he added later.
This marks Lead’s second collaboration deal with a Big Pharma. Back in 2015, it joined forces with Sanofi to work on small molecule therapies directed against nuclear receptors called ROR gamma t to treat a variety of autoimmune disorders. They currently have a candidate from that deal in a Phase I/II trial.
Lead also has several other preclinical candidates, including one that makes use of estrogen-related receptor alpha inverse agonists, which van den Berg expects to hit the clinic in about another year.