Roche inks deal with Skyhawk to develop drugs that modulate RNA splicing

Roche's Genentech unit entered an exclusive option and license agreement with Skyhawk Therapeutics to develop and commercialise small molecules that modulate RNA splicing, the latter drugmaker announced Tuesday. Skyhawk noted that it will use its SkySTAR technology platform to develop treatments directed to certain oncology and neurological disease targets.

Under the agreed terms, Skyhawk will receive an upfront payment and may be eligible for more than $2 billion, including opt-in fees and milestone payments, plus royalties on sales of commercialised medicines. Meanwhile, Genentech will hold responsibility for clinical development and commercialisation.

"Modulation of RNA splicing represents a novel approach for difficult-to-treat diseases," remarked James Sabry, global head of pharma partnering at Roche. The deal with Skyhawk comes the same day that Genentech entered into an agreement with Sosei Heptares to develop small molecules and biologics that modulate G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) targets across a range of diseases and signed a pact with Convelo Therapeutics focused on the development of remyelinating medicines for patients with neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis.

Meanwhile, Skyhawk has also entered into partnerships with a number of drugmakers focused on its SkySTAR technology platform, recently signing deals with Takeda and Merck & Co. Earlier this month, Skyhawk also revised its ongoing collaboration with Biogen to include the development of treatments for neurological conditions based on the SkySTAR platform.

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