Shares in UK-based clinical-stage biopharm PureTech Health have been given a boost by news that Roche has signed up to advance its exosome platform technology in a deal potentially worth more than $1 billion.

PureTech says its milk exosome-based technology is “uniquely designed to facilitate the oral administration of complex payloads”, including nucleic acids, peptides, and small molecules.

These exosomes are thought to travel via lymphatic circulation and could potentially enable the targeting of immune cells in novel ways.

Under the deal, PureTech Health will receive up to $36 million, including upfront payments, research support, and early preclinical milestones, but could end up banking milestone payments of over $1 billion and additional sales milestones and royalties for an undisclosed number of products.

“We are excited to accelerate the development of this promising technology from our internal lymphatic and immune cell trafficking programmes. The expertise and resources that Roche is bringing to the collaboration will help us to potentially address one of the biggest challenges in oligonucleotide-based therapeutic development: oral administration of nucleic acids,” said Daphne Zohar, PureTech’s co-founder and chief executive.

Breakthrough for Roche’s diagnostic immunoassays

Meanwhile, Roche also announced that US regulators have granted breakthrough device designation for its Elecsys cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) assays to support the improved diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease.

Currently AD diagnosis is largely based on clinical symptoms, including cognitive testing, but a diagnosis based on cognitive measures alone is only correct in 70 – 80 percent of cases.

“Measuring biomarkers with CSF immunoassays, associated with AD pathology, increases certainty of a diagnosis of AD and can help to evaluate the progression of the disease,” Roche noted.