Roche increases IPF presence with $1.39bn Promedior buy


Roche has agreed to buy US biotech Promedior, and a portfolio of drugs including a promising molecule for the deadly lung-scarring disease idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) in a deal worth up to $1.39 billion.

There are already two drugs on the market for IPF – Roche/Shionogi’s Esbriet (pirfenidone) and Boehringer Ingelheim’s Ofev (nintedanib), but according to Massachusetts-based Promedior its lead asset PRM-151 is the first to show a benefit on lung function on top of current therapies.

Privately-held Promedior has already produced sufficient data to persuade the FDA to assign Breakthrough Therapy Designation for PRM-151, meaning it could represent a significant improvement over approved therapies.

A recombinant form of human pentraxin-2 (PTX-2) protein, PRM-1  has demonstrated both prevention and reversal of fibrosis, and according to Promedior was the first molecule to show significant lung function improvements on top of current therapies in phase 2 trial results announced earlier this year.

Roche has agreed to pay $390 million up front, plus another $1 billion in further payments when certain development, regulatory,m and sales milestones are achieved.

The deal will also bring Promedior’s expertise in PTX-2 class drugs in to Roche’s R&D stable.

Despite several other candidates in development for IPF in the pharma pipeline, including from the biotechs Galapagos and Fibrogen, the size of the deal suggests that Roche agrees with Promedior’s analysis that PRM-151 could substantially change treatment of the progressive lung-scarring diseases.

As its name suggests there is no known cause for IPF, where scarring of the lungs makes it increasingly difficult to breathe.

PRM-151 may also be active in myelofibrosis, according to Promedior, which said the drug has produced promising early clinical trial data in the cancer caused by scarring of the bone marrow.

Its action against scarring means it could be used in other diseases linked with fibrosis, according to Promedior, saying that other diseases that could be treated include acute and chronic nephropathy, liver fibrosis and age-related macular degeneration.