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GEN News Highlights : Apr 7, 2014

Roche Purchases Bolster the Firm’s Molecular Dx, Gene Regulation Capabilities

In an effort to strengthen its molecular diagnostics offerings, Roche has just nabbed Massachusetts-based firm IQuum, a company that develops point-of-care products for molecular diagnostics. Roche will pay IQuum shareholders $275 million upfront and up to $175 million in product-related milestones. IQuum will be folded into Roche Molecular Diagnostics once the merger is complete.

With the acquisition, Roche is getting IQuum's Laboratory-in-a-tube (Liat™) System, which IQuum says allows healthcare workers to perform rapid molecular diagnostic testing in a point-of-care setting, along with the Liat Analyzer and Liat Influenza A/B Assay, the first test available for use on the system.

But, that's not Roche's only big purchase today: The Swiss firm also inked a deal with Spanish firm Oryzon Genomics to research, develop, and commercialize inhibitors of lysine-specific demethylase-1 (LSD1; KDM1A), an epigenetic modulator that regulates gene expression. Among the inhibitors that are part of the deal is Oryzon's lead molecule ORY-1001, which right now is in a Phase I/IIa trial for acute myeloid leukemia.

Per this deal, Roche is paying Oryzon $21 million upfront and for near-term milestones, plus potential milestone payments that could exceed $500 million across hematology, cancer, and nonmalignant indications. Roche will also pay royalties on sales that range up to mid-double digits. 

A two-year collaborative research program between Oryzon and Roche’s Translational Clinical Research Center (TCRC) is also a part of the deal, the aim of which is to understand the potential of LSD1 inhibitors in oncology and hematology.

"Our TCRC in New York has been launched with a mandate to identify partnerships that drive innovation, providing an industry-leading conduit between sources of breakthrough science and the broader Roche organization," John Reed, Roche’s head of pharma research and early development, said in a statement. "This collaboration on LSD1 inhibition with Oryzon fulfills that mandate perfectly."