Roche pays $120 million upfront to gain rights to UCB's anti-Tau antibody

Roche gained an exclusive license to UCB's experimental anti-Tau antibody UCB0107 under a deal potentially worth nearly $2 billion, the Belgian drugmaker said Wednesday. As part of the agreement, Roche will make an upfront payment of $120 million to UCB, which will fund and conduct a proof-of-concept study of UCB0107 in Alzheimer's disease.

Once results from the initial study are available, Roche's Genentech unit has the right to progress with the development of UCB0107 or return full rights back to UCB. If Genentech opts to proceed, UCB is eligible for additional cost reimbursement, development and sales milestone payments, as well as royalties, with a total potential consideration approaching $2 billion. 

Doubling down on Tau

James Sabry, global head of Roche Pharma Partnering, indicated that the collaboration would expand its existing efforts on Tau, as the company continues "to explore new molecules that address the key pathways of this complex disease." The drugmaker has an existing deal with AC Immune on development of the anti-Tau monoclonal antibody semorinemab, also known as RG6100. AC Immune indicated last month that top-line data from a Phase II study of semorinemab in Alzheimer's disease is expected in the second half of 2020.

According to UCB, the compound is a recombinant, full-length IgG4 monoclonal antibody, targeting a central Tau epitope, which is being developed to block or reduce the spread of Tau pathology. Last September, the company said UCB0107 was well tolerated with an acceptable safety profile among healthy volunteers in a Phase I study.

Meanwhile, UCB noted that it is continuing to develop UCB0107 in progressive supranuclear palsy, with a confirmatory Phase III study in this indication due to start in the second quarter of next year.

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