Despite a number of recent clinical setbacks, Roche has been touting its late-stage pipeline to investors, making special mention of its new schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis drug candidates and advances being made in the field of personalised medicine.
At an event held in London, the Swiss drugmaker said it hopes to make ten regulatory submissions of by the end of 2013 and highlighted 14 new molecular entities. Among those, Roche noted that it has started Phase III trials for RG1678, an investigational first-in-class glycine reuptake inhibitor for schizophrenia, while ocrelizumab for MS will move into late-stage trials in the first quarter of 2011.
This being Roche, there was special mention for oncology drugs in development, notably a combination of pertuzumab and Herceptin (trastuzumab) and the antibody-drug conjugate T-DM1 (trastuzumab-DM1), both for HER2-positive breast cancer. MetMAb, a monovalent antibody, is showing promise for non small-cell lung cancer and the company is also excited about RG7204 for patients with previously treated BRAF mutation-positive metastatic melanoma.
Roche noted that having pharmaceuticals and diagnostics divisions "allows for an integrated effort to progress personalised healthcare", and in oncology, biomarker programmes for all Phase III projects are in development. Chief medical officer Hal Barron said that “the concept of personalised healthcare is becoming a reality for more and more of our development projects". He added that MetMAb and the BRAF inhibitor "are two encouraging examples for how personalised therapy could improve outcomes in lung cancer and melanoma, respectively.”
Roche has suffered setbacks involving the diabetes drug taspoglutide, whose trials were suspended due to safety concerns (and a decision on whether to proceed is likely to announced in February, and questions about Avastin (bevacizumab) as a breast cancer treatment. Analysts believe that the pipeline is an impressive one, though many of the projects are risky.