Roche Acquires Regenerative Medicines Program

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Roche has acquired a program to develop regenerative therapies for multiple sclerosis.

On April 4, 2018, Versant Ventures, a global healthcare investment firm, announced that Roche Holdings has acquired a program known as Inception 5, which is focused on regenerative therapies for multiple sclerosis (MS). Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

According to Versant, the acquisition is the culmination of a June 2014 alliance between Inception Sciences, a drug discovery engine, and Roche to discover and develop new small molecules that promote remyelination of nerve fibers damaged during the progression of MS. The investment firm backed the project with equity financing, and Roche provided research funding to secure an option to acquire a specific program upon delivery of an investigational-new-drug-enabling package. The specific target of the acquired program was not disclosed.

Inception Sciences was co-founded with Versant in 2011. It has research sites in San Diego, CA, and in Vancouver and Montreal, Canada. In the three and a half years following the formation of the June 2014 alliance, Inception scientists translated discoveries made at the University of California, San Francisco, aimed at identifying and validating novel targets for remyelination that can be developed into a development-stage small-molecule program for MS.

“It is gratifying to see another successful outcome within Versant’s Discovery Engine network,” said Brad Bolzon, managing director and chair of the investment team at Versant, in a company press release. “We continue to leverage collaborative business models with pharma partners, especially in emerging fields such as this. We thank Roche for their confidence in the potential of our partnership to produce an entirely new class of therapeutics for multiple sclerosis and other demyelinating diseases.”

“Our Inception scientists once again demonstrated their ability to effectively translate foundational academic discoveries into high-quality drug candidates. This achievement resulted from access to cutting-edge academic research, a proven team of drug hunters with domain expertise, and support from our venture capital and pharma partners,” said Peppi Prasit, CEO of Inception Sciences, in the press release.

Launching new company


Following Roche’s acquisition of the Inception 5 program, Versant plans to launch Pipeline Therapeutics, a successor company, which will build an expanded platform to identify next-generation neuro-regenerative therapies.

The new company’s leadership team includes Drs. Brian Stearns and Daniel Lorrain, who co-led translational work on the Inception 5 remyelination program. Clare Ozawa, Versant managing director, will lead the formation, financing, and launch of Pipeline. The company is solely backed by Versant and expects to seek syndicate financing and industry partners by 2019.

“We are very excited to announce the creation of Pipeline Therapeutics and look forward to pursuing other therapeutic approaches that can promote functional recovery in neurological diseases,” said Stearns in the company press release.

“Based on the continued progress in the field, we are now positioned to pursue drug candidates that invoke the natural repair processes in several nervous system cell types,” Ozawa added. “We aim to create the leading company in the field and to build a portfolio of therapies for several neurodegenerative disorders that currently lack effective treatments.”

Source: Versant Ventures