By Estel Grace Masangkay
Roche announced that Roche Group member Genentech has signed into a definitive agreement to acquire privately-held biotech firm Seragon Pharmaceuticals and its Phase I program which is currently developing a new approach for breast cancer.
As part of the agreement, Genentech will pay an upfront cash fee of $725 million to Seragon in addition to contingent payments of up to $1 billion depending on achievement of specific predefined milestones. With the transaction, Genentech gains rights to the San Diego, California-based company’s whole portfolio of investigational oral selective estrogen receptor degraders (SERDs).
SERDs are currently under investigation as potential treatment for hormone receptor-positive breast cancer. Up to 60 percent of all breast cancers depend on estrogen and its receptor to grow and metastasize. SERDs are designed to block estradiol action at its receptor and also delete the estrogen receptor from the cell completely. Through its mechanism of action, SERDs are believed to change the shape of the estrogen receptor to help make it a target for elimination by the cell.
Seragon’s lead candidate ARN-810 is a next generation dual-acting SERD currently undergoing Phase I clinical trials for patients who have hormone receptor-positive breast cancer and have failed existing hormonal agents such as tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors.
Richard Scheller, EVP and Head of Genentech Research and Early Development, said, “This year, breast cancer will claim the lives of nearly 40,000 women in the United States, and up to half of these women will have a disease that is driven by the estrogen receptor. We believe these investigational oral SERDs could one day redefine the standard of care for hormone receptor-positive breast cancer.”
The company said the transaction is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2014. Once acquired, Seragon’s portfolio will be linked with Genentech Research and Early Development.