Roche to Buy Santaris Pharma to Expand RNA-Targeting Medicines

Roche announced it will acquire Santaris Pharma, a privately held biopharmaceutical company based near Copenhagen, Denmark, for up to $450M.

According to a Roche press release, Santaris Pharma 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 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 $200 million based on the achievement of certain predetermined milestones.

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