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Roche has bought immuno-oncology biotech firm Tusk Therapeutics for an upfront payment of £62 million.
Tusk’s shareholders will receive the upfront cash payment, plus additional contingent payments of up to £521 million, if and when certain milestones are achieved.
Tusk, which is based in Stevenage, has developed a first-in-class antibody, CD25, for the depletion of regulatory T-cells (TRegs), which suppress the body’s immune reaction to cancer cells.
This novel antibody enables the body’s other immune cells to fight tumours while leaving healthy tissue unharmed. Clinical trials are expected to start next year.
Luc Dochez, CEO of Tusk Therapeutics, said: “We are delighted that Roche will further develop this novel antibody and drive the development ahead.
“The remaining portfolio of our immune-oncology targets will be further developed by Black Belt Therapeutics, a newly formed company spun out of Tusk Therapeutics.”
Droia Oncology Ventures, Tusk’s majority shareholder, founded the company in 2014. Droia is a specialist investor, which focuses on fighting cancer.
It invests in promising new cancer therapies and accelerates their progress by actively supporting young drug development companies to achieve clinical proof of concept with their lead programmes. The deal will expand Roche’s oncology pipeline.
Also, Roche today announced a new collaboration with Novo Nordisk, which specialises in the treatment and management of diabetes and obesity.
The plan is to integrate insulin dosage information from Novo Nordisk’s connected pen technology into Roche’s open ecosystem, whereby it will communicate with its digital diabetes management solutions including mySugr, which allows people to monitor their glucose levels.
Marcel Gmuender, global head of Roche Diabetes Care, said: “The integration of insulin pen data in our digital health solutions such as mySugr will make it much easier for people with diabetes and their caregivers to track the effect of insulin on blood glucose levels.
“This enables more efficient and targeted decision support, as they can act on near real-time insights to optimise the personalised diabetes management, thereby reducing the risk of costly secondary complications and contributing to improved therapy outcomes and better quality of life.”
Anders Toft, corporate vice president of commercial innovation at Novo Nordisk, echoed this, adding: “Digital health solutions like mySugr are already helping thousands of patients. By integrating Novo Nordisk connected technology with mySugr, we can further ease the day-to-day burden of disease management and provide data-based insights to improve the dialogue between patients and caregivers.”