Swiss healthcare group Roche and Amira Pharmaceuticals have announced a model for collaboration consisting of a research alliance and an option for Amira to license two clinical stage compounds from Roche.
Under the research collaboration, Roche will use its screening capabilities to investigate three mutually agreed targets in the field of inflammatory diseases.
Amira will then utilize its expertise to optimize the lead compounds generated. Roche will have opt-in rights on two of those compounds.
Under a separate licensing option agreement, Amira may license two pre-determined clinical programs from Roche in specific indications in exchange for equity, milestones and royalties.
The alliance with Amira complements Roche's broad research efforts in inflammation and provides the company with access to innovative external capabilities in a strategic therapeutic area.
"In the past, we referred to a 'win-win' alliance between pharma and biotech partners," said Peter Hug, Roche's Global Head of Pharma Partnering.
"Through this new model, we have created a 'win-win-win' deal structure where three main players, Roche, Amira and the venture community, are all benefiting from a joint effort to develop potential new medicines for patients."
"We are very excited to collaborate with Roche," said Peppi Prasit, Chief Scientific Officer of Amira.
"This alliance reinforces the proven pharmaceutical background of Amira's scientists and positions Amira to develop an outstanding pipeline of novel drug candidates for a broad array of inflammation-based disorders. We look forward to a long and productive partnership."
Brad Bolzon, Managing Director at Versant Ventures said, "The investors are impressed that a broad, strategic pharma partnership could be established at such an early stage in the development of Amira."
"Together with financing from Avalon, Prospect and Versant, this deal should enable Amira to rapidly build itself into a strong R&D based company in this important therapeutic area."
Roche will screen its compound repository against three targets and will transfer any hits to Amira. In exchange, Roche will have opt-in rights on two of the programs.
If Roche exercises its option, Amira could receive up to $287 million in total event payments, plus royalties.
Amira will have a one year option to license two of Roche's existing clinical stage programs, in specific indications.
Should Amira exercise its option to these programs, Roche may receive a significant percentage of Amira's stock.
Additionally, if these two programs meet all development events, Roche could receive up to $20 million, in addition to royalties.