Drug Research
Drug Discovery & Development

Roche acquires Inception neuroscience program

Published 05 April 2018

Roche has acquired the Inception 5 program, which is focused on regenerative therapies for multiple sclerosis.

The acquisition is the culmination of a June 2014 alliance between Inception and Roche to discover and develop novel small molecules that promote remyelination of nerve fibers damaged during the progression of multiple sclerosis.

Versant Ventures backed the project with equity financing, and Roche provided research funding to secure an option to acquire a specific program upon delivery of an IND-enabling package. The specific target of the acquired program is not disclosed.

During the following 3.5 years, Inception scientists translated discoveries made at the University of California, San Francisco, aimed at the identification and validation of novel targets for remyelination, into a development-stage small molecule program for multiple sclerosis.

Versant investment team chair and managing directorBrad Bolzon said: “It is gratifying to see another successful outcome within Versant’s Discovery Engine network.

“We continue to leverage collaborative business models with pharma partners, especially in emerging fields such as this. We thank Roche for their confidence in the potential of our partnership to produce an entirely new class of therapeutics for multiple sclerosis and other demyelinating diseases.”

Inception Sciences CEO Peppi Prasit said: “Our Inception scientists once again demonstrated their ability to effectively translate foundational academic discoveries into high-quality drug candidates.

“ This achievement resulted from access to cutting-edge academic research, a proven team of drug hunters with domain expertise, and support from our venture capital and pharma partners.”

Following the acquisition of the Inception 5 program, Versant plans to launch Pipeline Therapeutics, a successor company led by the same operating team and a broadened network of academic founders. Pipeline will build an expanded platform to identify the next generation of neuro-regenerative therapies.

The new company’s leadership team includes Drs. Brian Stearns and Daniel Lorrain, who co-led translational work on the Inception 5 remyelination program. Versant’s leadership for the formation, financing and launch of Pipeline will be assumed by Clare Ozawa, Versant managing director.

“We are very excited to announce the creation of Pipeline Therapeutics and look forward to pursuing other therapeutic approaches that can promote functional recovery in neurological diseases,” said Dr. Stearns.

The successor company is solely backed by Versant and expects to seek syndicate financing and industry partners by 2019.

“Based on the continued progress in the field, we are now positioned to pursue drug candidates that invoke the natural repair processes in several nervous system cell types,” said Dr. Ozawa. “We aim to create the leading company in the field and to build a portfolio of therapies for several neurodegenerative disorders that currently lack effective treatments.”

Source: Company Press Release