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Roche in $1 billion deal with PureTech to develop oral way of delivering antisense treatments

LONDON, 20 July (APM) - Roche has agreed a $1 billion partnership with Massachusetts-based PureTech Health to develop new ways of delivering drugs, it was announced on Friday.
The deal includes an upfront payment of $36 million for Roche to gain access to PureTech’s technology that could support the oral delivery of the Swiss pharma’s antisense oligonucleotide products.
PureTech is also eligible to potentially receive development milestone payments of over $1 billion and additional sales milestones and royalties for an undisclosed number of products.
The deal focuses on Puretech’s milk exosome-based technology. Exosomes, which contain mixtures of lipids, proteins and nucleic acids, play a critical role in intercellular communication and the transport of macromolecules between cells and tissues, said PureTech in a statement.
The theory is that exosomes that are derived from the milk of mammals can serve as vehicles for the administration of drugs, especially nucleic acids, since their natural composition could provide superior tolerability over synthetic polymers currently in use.
There have been difficulties so far in developing these types of product as the harsh environment of the stomach and small intestine makes oral exosome products derived from milk unstable. However, PureTech said that the exosomes that form its technology platform have “evolved naturally and specifically to accomplish the task of oral transport of complex biological molecules”.
Roche is counting on the technology to be able to allow oral administration of its range of antisense oligonucleotide drugs in development. Oligonucleotides are synthetic single-stranded strings of nucleic acids that bind to RNA and can alter or reduce expression of mutant proteins. They are generally used to treat genetic conditions where there are mutated genes.
Approved antisense oligonucleotides, such as Biogen’s Spinraza (nusinersen) for spinal muscular atrophy and Sarepta’s Exondys 51 (eteplirsen) for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, tend to be given by injection.
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