Roche has expanded its stapled peptide drug collaboration with Aileron Therapeutics to include a programme focused on inflammatory diseases.

The firms teamed up in August 2010 to sign a deal worth up to $1.1 billion which encompassed "up to five programmes of strategic importance to Roche". Initially Aileron launched the collaboration around two key projects in oncology and the third will be the inflammatory programme.

The pact seems to be working well as Aileron said it has pocketed "a substantial milestone payment related to in vivo proof-of-concept" against one of the existing programmes. Financial details of the agreement and the milestone payment are not being disclosed.

Jean-Jacques Garaud, head of Roche's pharma research and early development, said "we now want to expand our work with Aileron and broaden the impact of stapled peptides in our portfolio to create drugs for disease targets that are intractable using currently available modalities". Aileron's chief executive Joseph Yanchik added that "we have now demonstrated in conjunction with a world-class drug development partner that – as we expected – our stapled peptide drugs are capable of addressing targets, in manner and effect, that have eluded small molecules and antibodies".