Roche has signed an innovatively structured deal with the USA’s Synosis Therapeutics in a bid to give some of its early-stage treatments for schizophrenia, cognitive disorders, Parkinson's, drug dependency and pain a better chance of getting to market.

Under the terms of the agreement, financial details for which have not been disclosed, Synosis will acquire from the Swiss major five drug candidates that Roche had already stopped developing, including four Phase I molecules, which target the central nervous.

The US privately-held firm, which has only just been set up with initial funding of $32.5 million from investment firms Versant Vectures 5AM and Abingworth, as well as Novo A/S, will now assume responsibility for the clinical development and, in some cases, commercialisation of the aforementioned candidates, while Roche will retain the right to opt-in to two pre-selected programmes.

Peter Hug, Roche's global head of pharma partnering said that by partnering with Synosis, “we're giving these potential medicines the best chance of success by creatively extending our innovation base in an important therapeutic area," while Brad Bolzon, managing director of Versant, spoke of the manner in which the pact was structured.

He said: "Unlike the traditional licensing model, this deal shows how venture capitalists and pharma can build partnerships based on a whole portfolio of promising clinical-stage drug candidates. This investment should unlock the potential value of these compounds in new indications."