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5 August 2014Biotechnology

RNA-targeting drugs behind Roche’s acquisition of Santaris

New drugs that target ribonucleic acid (RNA) being developed by Danish biotechnology company Santaris Pharma lie behind the decision by Roche to buy Santaris that was announced yesterday, August 4.

Roche has agreed to pay $250 million and will make further payments of up to $200 million if certain targets are achieved.

Santaris Pharma has developed a platform that uses Locked Nucleic Acid (LNA) chemistry, which has the potential to deliver therapies targeting difficult or impossible to treat types of disease.

John Reed, head of Roche’s pharma research and early development, said: “Today there are many disease targets that are very challenging or even impossible to reach with small molecules or antibodies.

“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.”

J. Donald deBethizy, president and chief executive of Santaris Pharma, said the companies have “complementary capabilities” that will help “realise breakthrough medicines.”

The transaction is expected to close by the end of August, and is the latest in a round of acquisitions by Roche. Last month, it added to its breast cancer portfolio with its subsidiary Genentech’s acquisition of pharmaceutical company Seragon, and in June it boosted its next generation sequencing pipeline with its buyout of Genia Technologies.

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