Catalent announced today, through its wholly owned subsidiary Redwood Bioscience, a partnership in which Roche will use Catalent’s SMARTagTM technology to develop next-generation therapeutic molecular coupling modalities. Under the terms of the agreement Roche will have nonexclusive rights to access Catalent’s programmable protein-modification technology platform, with an option to develop and eventually commercialize molecules directed to a defined number of targets.

Catalent’s platform, in combination with the hydrazino-Pictet-Spengler conjugation platform, will allow Roche to evaluate alternative drug conjugation sites with the hope of developing develop safer, more stable, efficacious compounds. In return, Roche will pay Catalent $1 million up front and provide additional funding through the collaboration’s initial phase. If Roche pursues commercial licenses, there is a potential estimated $618 million for Catalent in developmental milestone receipts and royalties on net sales.

The SMARTag site-specific protein-modification and linker technology employs natural post-translational modifications found in human cells to create one or more aldehyde tags at designated sites on protein molecules to enable the generation of homogenous bioconjugates. These chemical “handles’’ are stably conjugated to cytotoxic or effector payloads to prevent their systemic release.

“Our goal is to combine our differentiated SMARTag technology with Roche's expertise to create new transformational treatments,” said Mike Riley, Catalent Biologics’ vice president and general manager.