Roche has sold off rights to inclacumab to Global Blood Therapeutics, which intends to develop the treatment for vaso-occlusive crises (VOC) in patients with sickle cell disease (SCD).

Under the terms of the deal, GBT will be responsible for all development, manufacturing, and commercialisation of the monoclonal antibody worldwide.

In return, Roche will receive an upfront payment of $2.0 million, and could also bank up to around $125 million in development and commercialisation milestone payments for the sickle cell disease indication, as well as sales-based royalties.

The Swiss drug giant had been developing the drug to treat coronary artery disease, but it was discarded following Phase II trials. However, GBT plans to leverage the safety data produced from Roche’s prior clinical studies as it advances inclacumab in SCD.

Inclacumab is a novel, fully human monoclonal antibody designed to inhibit P-selectin, an adhesion molecule found on endothelial cells and platelets that contributes to the cell-cell interactions involved in the development of VOC.

“Inclacumab is an ideal complement to voxelotor, our lead investigational oral, once-daily therapy, in Phase III clinical development for SCD. Like voxelotor, inclacumab has a strong scientific rationale and has the potential to provide significant clinical benefit for SCD patients,” said Ted Love, GBT’s president and chief executive, explaining the rationale behind the deal.