October 9, 2015 / 1:26 PM / 5 years ago

Roche to buy U.S. biotech group Adheron Therapeutics

The logo of Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche is seen at a plant in the central Swiss village of Rotkreuz November 6, 2013. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

ZURICH (Reuters) - Swiss drugmaker Roche will acquire U.S. biotech group Adheron Therapeutics in a deal worth up to $580 million that boosts its pipeline of products to treat diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Adheron said on Friday.

California-based Adheron’s technology disrupts immune cell adhesion through a protein called Cadherin-11. Its lead asset, SDP051, is a humanized monoclonal antibody that has completed Phase 1 of clinical development.

Adheron’s shareholders will get $105 million in cash up front plus up to $475 million if the company achieves certain milestones. The deal is set to close shortly.

Founded by Michael Brenner and David Lee of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Adheron is funded by investors Health Care Ventures, MedImmune Ventures, Partners Innovation Fund, Amgen Ventures, and SROne, it said.

The deal fits into Roche’s strategy of seeking small bolt-on acquisitions at a time when the company says prices for medium-sized biotech companies with experimental drugs in late-stage development have soared out of reach.

Roche would continue to look at smaller acquisitions of firms with early-stage compounds several years from reaching the market, CEO Severin Schwan told Reuters last month.

Reporting by Michael Shields. Editing by Jane Merriman

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