Roche bets up to $1B on Blueprint’s immunomodulation platform

Roche is promising up to $1 billion in exchange for as many as 5 targeted cancer therapies from Blueprint Medicines, looking to bolster its own work in immuno-oncology.

Under the deal, Cambridge, MA’s Blueprint gets $45 million in upfront cash, and Roche has laid out another $965 million tied to option fees and milestone payments for all 5 potential collaborations. Roche can buy into each Blueprint therapy once it achieves proof of concept in a Phase I trial, the companies said, and Blueprint has the option to retain commercial rights to as many as two of the 5 programs, receiving royalties on the other three.

For Roche, the deal brings in a handful of small-molecule projects focused on immunokinases, enzymes that regulate immune response. Most of today’s cancer immunotherapies, including Roche’s in-development atezolizumab, are antibody treatments that work by removing the brakes from cancer-fighting T cells. Roche is betting that Blueprint’s early-stage work could bring about a complementary force, dovetailing with the effects of so-called checkpoint inhibitors like atezolizumab to create a more powerful weapon against tumors. [Read more]