Roche signs up to $1.1 billion drug deal with Aileron

ZURICH (Reuters) - Swiss drugmaker Roche Holding AG ROG.VX is entering a deal with U.S.-based Aileron Therapeutics worth up to $1.1 billion, giving it access to a new way of targeting diseases.

Aileron, which has built up a preclinical pipeline focusing on cancer, infectious disease, metabolic disease and immune and inflammatory diseases, is set to get an upfront payment of $25 million.

It will receive up to $1.1 billion in payments if drug candidates are successfully developed against five targets, as well as royalties on any future sales.

The companies have not disclosed the targets but Roche said on Tuesday they would be selected from its key therapeutic areas, which include oncology, virology, inflammation, metabolism and central nervous system.

Aileron is developing stabilized “stapled” peptides, a small protein, and its technology makes it easier for a drug to penetrate a cell. This can sometimes be a challenge when delivering a drug to the body.

The group has also focused on finding ways to ensure the drug remains stable after entering the cell to ensure effective treatment of the patient.

The work was in an early stage and clinical trials could start in about three years, Roche spokeswoman Claudia Schmitt said.

“Stapled peptides represent a potentially transformative new technology to create drugs for important disease targets that are intractable to currently available modalities,” Jean-Jacques Garaud, global head of Roche pharma research and early development said in a statement.

Reporting by Katie Reid; Editing by Erica Billingham