Roche has agreed a deal to develop and commercialise PLX4032, an investigational cancer therapy developed by Plexxicon, an American biotechnology company.
PLX4032 is designed to inhibit the B-RafV600E gene, associated with increased tumour aggressiveness and reduced survival prospects in many types of cancer. Plexxicon claims that the gene is found in 70 per cent of malignant melanomas, while it is also shown prevalence in colorectal and thyroid tumours.
The companies plan to start a phase I clinical trial for the drug by 2007.
In exchange for the commercialisation rights for the drug, Roche will pay an initial $40 million (21.2 million pounds), while Plexxicon will be eligible to receive royalties, as well as development and commercial milestones that could amount to $660 million.
K Peter Hirth, chief executive of Plexxicon, remarked: "We believe PLX4032 could be a first-in-class oral cancer therapeutic which selectively targets an oncogenic protein found only in diseased tissue."
Peter Hug, Roche's global head of pharma partnering, added that kinase-inhibiting drugs like PLX4032 are becoming "increasingly useful" in treating cancer and improving patient outcomes.
Earlier this week, Roche reported new data for three of its cancer drugs: Xeloda, Avastin and Herptin.
Eduard Holdener, head of global development at Roche, said the results were "very convincing" and that they showed that the drugs could be used in different combinations.See all the latest jobs in Pharmaceutical