Apo A-I is Borean Pharma's lead candidate for the treatment of atherosclerosis, a form of heart disease.
The acquisition of Borean’s trimeric Apo A-I forms a strategic fit for Roche and its pipeline of anti-atherosclerotic drugs.
The Borean atherosclerosis drug candidate is a trimerised version of the naturally occurring protein, Apolipoprotein A-I (Apo A-I).
Apo A-I is the major protein component of High Density Lipoprotein (HDL), so-called "good cholesterol".
Plasma levels of HDL and Apo A-I have been found to be inversely correlated with the incidence of atherosclerosis.
Recently, a Phase II clinical trial demonstrated that a dimeric variant of Apolipoprotein A-I, Apo A-I Milano, reduced the fatty arterial plaque that triggers most heart attacks by an average of 4.2%.
A trimerised version of the protein would be expected to have an even more pronounced effect.
Borean has already demonstrated that trimerised APO A-I is able to stabilise and inhibit atheromatous plaque formation in mice arteries more effectively than the naturally occurring monomeric form.
"This agreement represents a significant endorsement of our approach to protein engineering," commented Dr Johanna Holldack, CEO of Borean Pharma.
"Our powerful discovery engine is intended to deliver highly potent protein pharmaceuticals that are cheaper and easier to manufacture. This deal validates our approach."
"This acquisition is an excellent strategic fit with our ongoing development of clinically differentiated proteins for areas where there is a high unmet medical need," explained Peter Hug, Roche’s Head of Pharma Partnering.
"To expand our portfolio in disease areas such as metabolic and cardiovascular, Roche will continue to seek out novel and innovative compounds that will make a difference in patients’ lives."
Under the terms of the agreement Roche will acquire all the intellectual property and rights to the preclinical Apo A-I asset from Borean Pharma, which is currently entering lead optimisation. The transaction is expected to close during the second quarter of 2006.