Basel, 19 July 2005
Roche acquires Swiss based GlycArt Biotechnology to strengthen expertise in therapeutic antibody research
Roche today announced that it has signed an agreement to acquire 100% of GlycArt Biotechnology AG, a privately owned Swiss biotech company. GlycArt’s unique technology for enhancing the efficacy of antibodies will further strengthen Roche’s expertise in therapeutic antibody research and development.
“This acquisition is an excellent strategic fit with our Therapeutic Protein Initiative and our focus on developing clinically differentiated proteins and antibodies for areas of unmet medical need, such as oncology” said Franz B. Humer, Chairman and CEO of the Roche Group. “We are excited about this significant addition of cutting- edge technology to our R&D organization. We welcome GlycArt and its employees to our worldwide Pharma organisation.”
“We are delighted to become an integral part of the Roche Group, and believe that Roche’s outstanding capabilities in biopharmaceutical R&D, manufacturing and commercialisation will give our product candidates and technologies an excellent opportunity to realise their full potential”, said Joël Jean-Mairet, CEO of GlycArt. “Since September 2004 we have enjoyed an exciting and synergistic collaboration with Roche, and we very much look forward to continuing to contribute to Roche’s expanding antibody pipeline”.
GlycArt owns the proprietary GlycoMAb glycosylation technology which is a method of increasing the potency of therapeutic antibodies targeting undesirable cells by engineering the carbohydrate component present in all such antibodies. In particular, GlycoMAb specifically increases antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC), an immune effector mechanism crucial for the in vivo target-cell killing activity of antibodies. GlycoMAb thus has the potential to generate best-in- class antibody therapeutics in disease areas such as oncology, where Roche is the global market leader. In addition Roche will acquire GlycArt’s development pipeline which includes three monoclonal antibodies in preclinical development for cancer.
Roche plans to maintain the GlycArt facility in Zurich-Schlieren as a fully integrated part of the Roche Pharma research organisation.
Roche will pay approximately 235 million Swiss francs in cash in exchange for all of GlycArt’s outstanding capital stock. The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2005.
About GlycArt Biotechnology AG
GlycArt is a privately held Swiss biotechnology company focussed on the development and commercialisation of a new generation of antibody products based on its proprietary GlycoMAb technology. GlycArt has generated its own GlycoMAb-based antibody portfolio by in-licensing and acquiring antibodies at early stages of development and applying GlycoMAb to them. GlycArt’s current focus is on next-generation antibody therapeutics against well-characterised and clinically validated targets, but the company is also taking advantage of its broad technological capabilities in antibody humanisation, expression and screening. GlycArt was founded in 2000 as a spin-off from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, and is located in Zurich-Schlieren. Since its inception, the firm has been backed by a broad investment syndicate consisting of Novartis Venture Fund, GLSV, Gilde, DVC, ABN AMRO Capital, Quester and BioMed Invest.
GlycoMAb is a fully developed technology platform that efficiently increases the specific biological activity of therapeutic monoclonal antibodies for target cell ablation. It is based on an active modulation of antibody glycosylation during production leading to antibody products with increased ADCC (antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity). A high relevance for therapeutic efficacy, industrial scale applicability, broad patent protection and an extensive body of proof (including external validation) are the distinctive hallmarks of this technology.
Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Roche is one of the world’s leading research-focused healthcare groups in the fields of pharmaceuticals and diagnostics. As a supplier of innovative products and services for the early detection, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease, the Group contributes on a broad range of fronts to improving people’s health and quality of life. Roche is a world leader in diagnostics, the leading supplier of medicines for cancer and transplantation and a market leader in virology. In 2004 sales by the Pharmaceuticals Division totalled 21.7 billion Swiss francs, while the Diagnostics Division posted sales of 7.8 billion Swiss francs. Roche employs roughly 65,000 people in 150 countries and has R&D agreements and strategic alliances with numerous partners, including majority ownership interests in Genentech and Chugai. Additional information about the Roche Group is available on the Internet at www.roche.com.
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