Roche partners with Arrakis on RNA-targeted small molecule drugs for multiple targets

Arrakis Therapeutics announced Wednesday that it has entered into a strategic collaboration and license agreement with Roche to discover RNA-targeted small molecule (rSM) drugs against a "broad set of targets" across all of the Swiss drugmaker's R&D areas. The alliance "will increase the number of new treatments for patients arising from our proprietary rSM discovery platform," said Michael Gilman, chief executive at Arrakis, adding that his company is also "further building our capabilities and advancing our wholly-owned rSM programmes for diseases unaddressed by today's medicines."

Under the deal, Arrakis will receive an upfront cash payment of $190 million from Roche, and is eligible for preclinical, clinical, commercial and sales milestone payments and royalties on any resulting products. Arrakis indicated that the aggregate potential value of future payments to the company "exceeds several billion dollars," subject to regulatory approvals and other conditions.

The agreement calls for Arrakis to lead discovery and research activities for each target up to a defined point, at which time Roche will have the right to exclusively pursue further preclinical and clinical development.

Arrakis said its discovery platform integrates RNA bioinformatic and structural tools, as well as curated chemical libraries, RNA-specific assays and RNA-guided medicinal chemistry. The company previously entered into an exclusive license agreement with the University of Pennsylvania to access technology related to small molecule drug candidates that directly target RNA.

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