2020-09-24| FundingR&D

Roche Invests €380 Million on Inflammatory Disease Focusing Irish Biotech

by Pavel Ryzhov
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By Pavel Ryzhov, Ph.D.

Mergers and acquisitions in the biopharmaceutical industry are not uncommon events. Big companies often acquire smaller, promising niche companies specializing in one or several disease indications or have valuable IP. The large corporations invest to strengthen a specific part of their product portfolio, while small companies use that as an exit strategy to pay their investors or shareholders. These deals have been a staple in recent years, and spurred continued innovation across many therapeutic sectors.

A recent example of such a deal is acquiring a small biotech company Inflazome by Roche, a multinational biopharmaceutical company [1]. Inflazome was established in 2016 in Dublin, Ireland, by Pr. Matt Cooper from the University of Queensland, Australia, and Pr. Luke O’Neill from Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. The company’s main focus is on developing small-molecule inhibitors of NLPR3 (NLR (nucleotide-binding domain, leucine-rich repeat) family, pyrin domain-containing protein 3).

This protein plays a role in the innate immune system, specifically as a component of an inflammasome, an oligomer of multiple proteins that together activate the immune response in cells, leading to uncontrolled cell death response, or pyroptosis [2]. Under pathological conditions, inflammasomes may contribute to chronic conditions such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, chronic kidney, and cardiovascular diseases, and others. Inflazome’s portfolio contains orally available inhibitors of NLRP3, with several lead molecules completing Phase I trials and others promising candidates at earlier stages.

According to the press release [1], Inflazome’s shareholders have been offered a payment of €380 million as part of a share purchase agreement with Roche. The agreement also includes a clause for additional milestone payments upon their achievement. The deal has been welcomed by Matt Cooper, CEO of Inflazome, who remarked: “With Inflazome now part of the Roche organization, Inflazome’s pioneering molecules are well-positioned to be developed quickly and effectively.” Manus Rogan, Chairman and co-founding investor of the company, acknowledged that the “company, which was established just four years ago, developed a portfolio of clinical and preclinical molecules with a lean, highly experienced team and limited invested capital.”

It is also worth noting that the acquired company raised €55 million in venture capital funding from Forbion, Longitude Capital, Fountain Healthcare Partners, and Novartis Venture Fund, making this exit by acquisition a major win for the investors.

Related Article: Abbvie Places $2 Billion Bet on Flourishing Immunotherapy Area with this Oncology Partnership



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