Editors' (re)View: Roche makes moves; Flagship keeps sailing

Jan. 5, 2024
Pharma Manufacturing editors comment on the notable happenings in the pharma industry from the week of January 1

Roche makes moves

Roche marked the beginning of the year by announcing two partnerships.

On January 3rd, the company entered into a collaboration with China's MediLink Therapeutics. The focus is on developing YL211, an ADC targeting c-Mesenchymal epithelial transition factor (c-Met) for solid tumors. Roche will provide MediLink with upfront and near-term milestone payments totaling $50 million, with potential additional milestones, reaching close to $1 billion. 

This partnership solidifies Roche's ADC presence, a modality that has gained momentum in oncology as a promising therapeutic option.

Roche inked another partnership the next day, this time with MOMA Therapeutics. Per the deal, the Massachusetts-based precision medicines company will give Roche access to its proprietary KnowledgeBase platform for identifying oncology targets. In return, MOMA receives a $66 million upfront cash payment and stands eligible for milestone payments exceeding $2 billion, along with tiered royalties. 

The collaborations follow on the heels of Roche's October acquisition of Telavant, which included a $7.1 billion upfront payment and a near-term milestone payment of $150 million. Upon completion, Roche will take full control of the development, production, and marketing of Telavant's promising bowel disease treatment in the U.S. and Japan.

And it doesn't appear that Roche, a leading global investor in research and development, is slowing down anytime soon. The company spent $14.5 billion in R&D in 2022, up from $13.7 in 2021. As of October 2023, the company reported having over 100 products in its pipeline, including over 40 therapeutics in phase 3, 9 of which are New Molecular Entities.

— Andrea Corona

Flagship keeps sailing

Earlier this week, we reported that Novo Nordisk entered into separate cardiometabolic research collaborations with two Flagship Pioneering bioplatform companies — Omega Therapeutics and Cellarity — focused on obesity and chronic liver disease, respectively. 

If the Flagship name sounds familiar, it’s for good reason. The Massachusetts-based venture capital company keeps itself busy. The incubator has backed several pharma success stories, including Moderna, CRISPR gene editing-focused Editas Medicine and chronic disease specialist Sigilon, snapped up by Eli Lilly over the summer for $34.6 million.

Flagship went international this past fall when it unveiled a new biotech — Quotient Therapeutics — with offices in the U.S. and the UK. The VC was also recently named to FORTUNE's 2023 ‘Change the World’ list, an annual global ranking of companies that have made a positive social or environmental impact. 

The two recent deals with Novo are the first two programs to emerge from a collaboration between Flagship and Novo's R&D unit, Bio Innovation Hub, signed last year. Novo’s explosive success in the cardiometabolic space combined with the proprietary platform technologies from Omega and Cellarity should offer up some exciting advances in both obesity and MASH down the line. —Karen Langhauser



About the Author

Andrea Corona | Senior Editor

About the Author

Karen P. Langhauser | Chief Content Director, Pharma Manufacturing

Karen currently serves as Pharma Manufacturing's chief content director.

Now having dedicated her entire career to b2b journalism, Karen got her start writing for Food Manufacturing magazine. She made the decision to trade food for drugs in 2013, when she joined Putman Media as the digital content manager for Pharma Manufacturing, later taking the helm on the brand in 2016.

As an award-winning journalist with 20+ years experience writing in the manufacturing space, Karen passionately believes that b2b content does not have to suck. As the content director, her ongoing mission has been to keep Pharma Manufacturing's editorial look, tone and content fresh and accessible.

Karen graduated with honors from Bucknell University, where she majored in English and played Division 1 softball for the Bison. Happily living in NJ's famed Asbury Park, Karen is a retired Garden State Rollergirl, known to the roller derby community as the 'Predator-in-Chief.'