Swiss drug giant Roche has taken out its wallet again signing a development pact with US group Aileron for access to its stapled peptide therapeutics and technology for up to $1.1 billion.

The partnership will see the companies work together on developing drug candidates against up to five undisclosed targets selected from Roche’s key therapeutic areas, using Aileron’s proprietary stapled peptide technology platform, which ‘locks’ peptides into their biologically active shape, mimicking the structures found in nature.

According to Aileron, its technology captures the best features of both small molecules and therapeutic proteins, “endowing the peptide with unique and beneficial drug-like properties, including efficient cell penetration, improved pharmacokinetics, high-affinity binding to large target protein surfaces and excellent stability within the body”.

“Stapled Peptides represent a potentially transformative new technology to create drugs for important disease targets that are intractable to currently available modalities,” said Jean-Jacques Garaud, Global Head of Roche Pharma Research and Early Development.

Strategically important

Further explaining the firm’s interest in the deal, he said the collaboration is “a strategically important endeavour for advancing a novel approach to developing new medicines and will accelerate our progress toward our ultimate goal of bringing important new treatments to patients with unmet medical needs.”

Under the terms of the deal, Roche will provide Aileron guaranteed funding of at least $25 million in technology access fees and R&D support, as well as up to $1.1 billion on attaining, development, regulatory and commercialisation milestones (if drug candidates are developed against all five targets), and royalties on future sales.