UK biotechnology company PIramed has been rewarded for its efforts in cancer drug discovery with a licensing deal from Genentech that could be worth up to $230 million dollars.

Genentech has licensed a portfolio of cancer drugs from PIramed that target PI3 kinase, an intracellular enzyme involved in a broad range of cancers. The deal is thought to be one of the largest ever involving a UK biotechnology company with products in preclinical development.

Under the terms of the agreement, PIramed will receive an upfront payment and if the development of the drugs goes well stands to receive additional payments on the achievement of milestones in the collaboration and product approvals. It will also be due royalties on any commercialised products.

PIramed will conduct preclinical research with Genentech, while the biotechnology bellwether will be responsible for clinical development, regulatory approvals, manufacturing and commercialisation. The UK firm has retained an option to commercialise certain products in territories outside the USA.

Last year, PIramed entered into a collaboration with the UK's Cancer Research Technology for its PI3 kinase programme.