Roche Acquires Trophos and Failed Orphan Drug for €470 Million

In Clinical Development by Cameron

Roche aims to be first to market in market for Spinal Muscular Atrophy treatment with purchase of Trophos and lead drug olesoxime

Roche has agreed to buy the French biotech Trophos for €120 million with a further €350 million available in milestone payments. The purchase gives Roche access to Trophos’ drug olesoxime which in 2011 failed a PIII trial in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis causing Actelion to walk away from a $250 million deal. But Roche’s interest in olesoxime is as a treatment for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), to which demonstrated promising results in a PII study last year.

SMA is caused by the loss of function of the SMN 1 gene, leading to the degeneration of nerves in the spinal column. The disease affects around 30,000 people across the US, Europe and Japan and is increasingly emerging as a new target amongst a number of pharma and biotech companies. Astellas recently agreed to a $675 million licencing deal with Cytokinetics  to license CK-2127107, a drug with potential in SMA. Whilst ISIS Pharma and Biogen Idec are set to enter PIII very soon with ISIS-SMNrx. And lets not forget Roche’s own SMA drug RG7800 currently in PI trials.

[pullquote cite=”Sandra Horning, Chief Medical Officer”]”This acquisition highlights Roche’s commitment to developing medicines for spinal muscular atrophy, a serious disease with no effective treatment”[/pullquote]

With three types of SMA, Trophos’ olesoxime targets type II and type III SMA, which represent the less sever forms of SMA, though patients will still require high levels of car. Type I SMA is generally fatal to patients by the age of two. Olesoxime was created through Trophos’ propriety screening platform for the creation of mitochondrial targeted compounds, and works by preserving mitochondria in stressed neurons, increasing functionality and survival of stressed neurons.

This purchase by Roche was in fact the fourth to take place in a week by the pharma giant. Roche aslo splashed out $750 million in a licensing deal with Meiji Seika and Fedora securing for their beta-lactamase inhibitor OP0595 for the enhancement of existing antibiotics; a $1 billion agreement to take control of Foundation Medicine; a genetic testing collaboration for Parkinson’s disease with 23andMe.

Find the press release here.