Roche has hit the acquisition trail to get hold of breast cancer specialist Seragon Pharmaceuticals.

The Swiss major will pay $725 million in cash upfront plus additional contingent payments of up to $1 billion to buy privately-held Seragon and its portfolio of investigational next-generation oral selective estrogen receptor degraders (SERDs) for hormone receptor-positive breast cancer. Its lead candidate is ARN-810, which is in Phase I for people with the disease who have failed current hormonal agents.

Roche says that the next-generation SERDs complement its Genentech unit’s existing R&D  programmes in breast cancer. The latter’s head of research and early development, Richard Scheller, said “we believe these investigational oral SERDs could one day redefine the standard of care for hormone receptor-positive breast cancer”.

Seragon, which is based in San Diego, was spun out from Aragon Pharmaceuticals last year when it was bought for up to $1 billion by Johnson & Johnson.

Roche is already the leading player in breast cancer with Herceptin (trastuzumab), Kadcyla (trastuzumab/emtansine) and Perjeta (pertuzumab).