Roche to acquire Santaris Pharma to expand discovery and development of RNA-targeting medicines
(6th August, 2014); Roche announced on last Monday that it has agreed to acquire Santaris Pharma, a privately held biopharmaceutical company based near Copenhagen, Denmark. Santaris Pharma has pioneered its proprietary Locked Nucleic Acid (LNA) platform that has contributed to an emerging era of RNA-targeting therapeutics. This new class of medicines has the potential to address difficult to treat diseases in a range of therapeutic areas.
“Today there are many disease targets that are very challenging or even impossible to reach with small molecules or antibodies,” said John C. Reed, Head of Roche Pharma Research and Early Development. “We believe the LNA platform provides the means to efficiently discover and develop an important new class of medicines that may address the significant needs of patients across multiple therapeutic areas.”
“Roche and Santaris Pharma have complementary capabilities that will help us realize breakthrough medicines,” stated J. Donald deBethizy, President and CEO of Santaris Pharma. “The acquisition combines Santaris Pharma’s next-generation antisense technology and LNA expertise with Roche’s deep experience in disease biology, chemistry, drug safety, drug formulation, delivery, and development.”
The acquisition, which is subject to customary closing conditions, is expected to close in August 2014. Roche plans to maintain Santaris Pharma’s operations in Denmark, where the existing site will be renamed Roche Innovation Center Copenhagen. Under the terms of the agreement, Roche will make an upfront cash payment of USD 250 million to Santaris Pharma shareholders and make additional contingent payments of up to USD 200 million based on the achievement of certain predetermined milestones.
Santaris Pharma’s LNA platform and drug discovery engine combines the company’s proprietary LNA chemistry with its highly specialized and targeted drug discovery capabilities to rapidly deliver drug candidates against both mRNA and microRNA, thus enabling scientists to develop drug candidates for diseases that are difficult, or impossible, to target with contemporary drug platforms such as antibodies and small molecules. The LNA platform is designed to overcome the limitations of earlier antisense and siRNA technologies, in particular through a unique combination of small size, high binding affinity and metabolic stability that allows this new class of drugs candidates to potently and specifically influence RNA targets in many different tissues without the need for complex delivery vehicles. LNA is also sometimes referred to as BNA (Bicyclic or Bridged Nucleic Acid).