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Mergers & Acquisitions

Roche buys Inflazome for $445 million

The acquisition makes Roche the latest pharma giant to invest in inflammasome modulators

by Megha Satyanarayana
September 24, 2020 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 98, ISSUE 37

09837-buscon3-inflam.jpg
Credit: C&EN/Protein Data Bank, PDB ID 3JBL (NLRP3)
A cryogenic electron microscopy model of an inflammasome ring

Roche has agreed to pay roughly $445 million for Inflazome, joining the race to bring to market drugs that block the inflammasome, a part of the immune system linked to inflammatory diseases.

The move will give the pharma company access to Inflazome’s entire pipeline, which includes two small molecules that have completed Phase I safety trials, Inzomelid and Somalix.

Since its founding in 2016, Inflazome has developed a portfolio of small molecules that target the NLRP3 inflammasome, one of 14 protein complexes that under normal circumstances, fend off microbes as part of the immune system. But, as we live longer, these otherwise helpful parts of human self-defense have been implicated in a range of age-related diseases, including autoimmune and neurogenerative diseases.

Inzomelid works by preventing NLRP3 from folding into its active state, which, when coupled to the other proteins in the inflammasome, can cause cells to release inflammation-causing cytokines. The orally available drug, which Inflazome CEO Matt Cooper says can cross the blood-brain barrier, is in trials for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease and cryopyrin-associated periodic syndrome, an inflammatory disease caused by a mutation in NLRP3. Somalix is being tested for use in a range of inflammatory diseases.

Several companies are investing in anti-inflammasome therapies that target different parts of the protein complex, including Novartis and Bristol Myers Squibb, which have both acquired small molecules from IFM Therapeutics subsidiaries. Genentech, which is owned by Roche, bought Jecure Therapeutics and its pipeline of NLRP3 inflammasome inhibitors in 2018.

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