Roche has linked up with Denmark's Santaris Pharma to discover and develop novel RNA targeted medicines.

The deal involves the use of Santaris' locked nucleic acid (LNA) drug platform "against a multitude of targets across several disease areas". Roche will pay an upfront fee of $10 million in cash and up to $138 million in various development, regulatory and sales milestones per product, plus funding of ongoing discovery and research activities and royalties.

John Reed, head of pharma research and early development at Roche, said the firm believes the LNA platform "provides the means to discover novel drugs against a range of targets of high clinical relevance that are difficult – or impossible - to target with other drug platforms".

The deal was announced by Santaris' new chief executive Don deBethizy, the former boss of Targacept who has only just been appointed this week. He said that "we are delighted that Roche has deepened its commitment to the field of oligonucleotide therapeutics and we are obviously proud and honoured".

Privately-owned Santaris, which already has strategic partnerships in place with the likes of Bristol-Myers Squibb, Shire and Pfizer. Earlier this week a deal was inked with Germany's Isarna Therapeutics.