Genentech/AC Immune: Genentech must like what it sees in the monoclonal antibodies of Swiss company AC Immune. In a June 18 announcement, Genentech, a division of Roche, says it has turned again to AC Immune to develop antibodies against a target implicated in Alzheimer's disease, this time zeroing in on abnormal Tau protein. In a deal valued at just over $400 million, the two companies will work together to produce anti-Tau monoclonal antibodies, with Genentech taking responsibility for preclinical and clinical development, manufacturing and commercialization. AC Immune will receive an undisclosed upfront payment, development milestones and royalties on sales. Genentech originally partnered with AC Immune back in 2006, to develop monoclonal antibodies against amyloid-beta, another protein thought to be involved in Alzheimer's disease. The Swiss company uses antigens expressed on liposomes to create its molecules, and its anti-amyloid-beta research has produced one antibody, crenezumab, which is in Phase II clinical studies. The so-far benign side effect profile of crenezumab was apparently key to it being selected by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and others for evaluation in a trial aimed at preventing the onset of Alzheimer's, which will take place in a family group in Colombia with an inherited disposition to develop the condition. - John Davis
GSK/Liquidia: GlaxoSmithKline forged a deal with privately-held Liquidia Technologies under which it will use the startup's nanotechnology platform to develop vaccines and inhalable product candidates. Terms weren't released in the June 20 announcement (pdf), but the companies revealed that the up-front payment included both cash and equity, as well as research and development funding. With additional components of the transaction, including milestone payments, licensing fees, and royalties, the deal's value could spiral into the hundreds of millions of dollars over several years, the companies said. Founded in 2004 and based in Research Triangle Park, N.C., Liquidia has created a platform it calls PRINT (particle replication in non-wetting templates), with which it engineers and fabricates nanoparticles, most often used in vaccines thus far. While it retains rights to its own programs, the company also has a 2009 partnership with Abbott to discover particles that deliver siRNA-based drugs. Investors in Liquidia include PPD, Canaan Ventures, New Enterprise Associates, Morningside Venture Investments, Pappas Ventures, and Firelake Capital. - P.B.
Roche/Seaside: Privately-held Seaside Therapeutics has made considerable progress in researching neurological disorders such as Fragile X syndrome and autism spectrum disorder. Now, Roche has partnered (pdf) with the start-up, licensing patents that are the basis for one key drug while taking an option on another. For an undisclosed amount, Roche took rights to patents on a glutamate receptor subtype 5 (mGluR5) antagonist, RG7090, currently entering Phase II for Fragile X; the patents are also of interest for ASD. Roche also obtained an option to license Seaside's GABA-B agonist, known as STX209 or arbaclofen, in Phase III for Fragile X and Phase IIb for autism. Seaside will continue to develop the latter drug with funds received in the deal, but Roche will be able to license it upon completion of certain milestones. Novartis has a competing mGluR5 drug, AFQ056, in late-stage development for Fragile X as well. - P.B.
We're indebted to Scott Steinke for his report on the Walgreens/Boots deal in "The Pink Sheet" DAILY, though he didn't mention Nancy Sinatra. As for Eileen, thanks to the Aquarium Drunkard.