Roche is to acquire privately owned Swiss biotechnology company, GlycArt, in a 235 million Swiss-francs cash deal, in a move that further reinforces the former’s position as a cancer powerhouse.

GlycArt has three monoclonal antibodies in pre-clinical development for the treatment of cancer and also owns the so-called “GlycoMAb glycosylation” technology, which improves the cancer-killing potential of drugs. Roche claims that the technology has “the potential to generate best-in- class antibody therapeutics in disease areas such as oncology.”

Roche is already one of the world’s leading cancer companies, with a portfolio that boasts the non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma treatment, MabThera (rituximab), Avastin (bevacizumab) for colorectal cancer, Tarceva (erlotinib) for non-small cell lung cancer and Xeloda (capecitabine) and Herceptin (trastuzumab) for breast cancer.

The GlycArt transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2005.