Roche has teamed up with Discuva to develop new antibiotics in a deal that could be worth many millions of dollars to the UK company.

The partnership will target life-threatening infections caused by multi-drug resistant Gram-negative bacteria using Discuva’s SATIN technology
platform. The privately-owned Cambridge-based group will bank an upfront payment of $16 million, and is eligible for research fees and payments on multiple programmes of up to $175 million per product, plus royalties.

Janet Hammond, head of infectious diseases for Roche Pharma Research and Early Development, noted that "multi-drug resistant bacteria have become a genuine threat to public health worldwide. We are pleased to be collaborating with the very experienced team at Discuva and looking forward to using their unique technology platform to accelerate our efforts in antibiotic discovery".

The Discuva deal comes some four months after Roche announced its intention to return to antibiotics research by licensing an investigational superbug drug from fellow Swiss firm Polyphor for bacterial infections caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa.