Roche’s Genentech unit has entered into a collaboration with Canada's Xenon Pharmaceuticals to discover compounds and diagnostics for treatment of pain.

Under the terms of the agreement, Genentech (which has an exclusive license to compounds and a non-exclusive right to any diagnostics) will pay an undisclosed upfront fee plus research funding. Xenon, which is privately owned and based in Vancouver, is eligible to receive R&D and commercialisation milestone payments, totalling up to $646 million, plus royalties.

Michael Hayden, chief scientific officer at Xenon, said the alliance, "which represents our sixth partnership with a major pharmaceutical company to date, once again highlights the keen interest in Xenon’s unique genetics approach and in our translational R&D capabilities".

Xenon's other partners include Takeda, Novartis and Merck & Co.