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Roche Buys Cancer Drug From ThromboGenics


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Roche Buys Cancer Drug From ThromboGenics, BioInvent (Update2)

By Dermot Doherty

June 18 (Bloomberg) -- Roche Holding AG, the world's biggest maker of tumor drugs, agreed to pay as much as 500 million euros ($774 million) for rights to an experimental cancer medicine developed by ThromboGenics NV and BioInvent International AB.

Basel, Switzerland-based Roche will pay 50 million euros upfront and an additional 450 million euros if the treatment reaches certain milestones, Leuven, Belgium-based ThromboGenics and Lund, Sweden-based BioInvent said today in a PRNewswire statement. The companies will also receive royalty payments on sales of the product, called TB-403, while Roche will be responsible for all future development costs.

Cancer medicines such as Avastin and Herceptin are helping the Swiss drugmaker grow faster than rivals such as Novartis AG. Like Avastin, used in the treatment of colorectal, lung and breast tumors, TB-403 works by choking off the supply of blood needed for cancers to grow. The experimental compound, which targets so-called placental growth factor, is in the first of three sets of clinical trials needed to gain approval.

The compound has ``great potential as a versatile cancer therapeutic but is still early stage,'' Martin Voegtli, a Zurich- based analyst at Sal. Oppenheim, said in a note to investors.

The agreement gives Roche an exclusive global license to develop and market the drug, while ThromboGenics and BioInvent will have co-promotion rights in the Benelux, Baltic and Nordic regions.

A study published in the medical journal Cell in November showed that antibodies targeting placental growth factor may restrict tumor growth without affecting blood vessels in healthy cell tissue, a side effect commonly associated with current tumor-fighting treatments.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dermot Doherty in Geneva at Ddoherty9@bloomberg.net

Last Updated: June 18, 2008 02:46 EDT

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