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Roche Announces Second Cancer Immunotherapy Collaboration, This Time With Pieris



Pieris is set to receive $6.4 million in upfront capital from Roche, with up to $409 million to be paid out after the new drugs pass industry milestones.

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December 10, 2015 | by Sarah Massey, M.Sc.

Roche announced its second biotech collaboration this week with Boston-based Pieris pharmaceuticals. The company will be backing Pieris Pharmaceuticals’ Anticalin platform for the discovery of novel cancer immunotherapy drug targets.

It’s reported that Pieris will be responsible for preclinical phases of development, while Roche will use their expertise during clinical trials. Pieris is set to receive $6.4 million in upfront capital from Roche, with up to $409 million to be paid out after the new drugs pass industry milestones.

The deal will also help to bolster Pieris’ presence in the emerging field on immuno-oncology – a branch of immunotherapy – by having the pharmaceutical giant as one of their contributors. Following the announcement of the collaboration, shares in Pieris rose by 26 percent.

Pieris is currently developing made-to-order Anticalin-based therapies against specific cancer targets – a project that peaked Roche’s interest in the company. Pieris’ lead asset is a CD137/HER2 bispecific – known as PRS-343 – which has been developed to promote the patient’s immune system to launch an attack on the tumor, along with improve the efficacy of other cancer therapies. Concurrently, Roche has been developing its PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitor – atezolizumab – which is in the midst of late-stage studies.

Roche announced on Monday that they would be collaborated on immune-oncology drug discovery with SQZ – a deal worth more than $500 million if the company’s cell-squeezing technology is able to deliver. Pieris recently issued a press release outlining promising biomarker and safety data from the Phase I clinical trial of its Anticalin-based anemia drug, PRS-080.

“The decision by the leader in the development and commercialization of cancer biologics to collaborate with Pieris underscores the unique potential of Anticalin-based proteins as a differentiated class of immuno-oncology drugs,” said Stephen Yoder, CEO of Pieris. “As we initiate this collaboration, we will continue to vigorously advance our fully proprietary programs, including our lead CD137-HER2 bispecific.”




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Keywords: Roche, Immunotherapy, Drug Target


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