Roche Set to Buy RNAi Firm

The Swiss pharmaceutical giant will reportedly pay $450 million for a Danish biotech company that develops drugs that silence microRNAs.

Aug 6, 2014
Bob Grant

WIKIMEDIA, US TREASURY DEPARTMENTOfficials at Roche, the Switzerland-based pharmaceutical company, announced Monday (August 4) that the firm will buy the Danish biotech firm Santaris Pharma for $450 million. Santaris made its mark in the RNA interference (RNAi) space with its proprietary locked nucleic acid (LNA) platform, which has churned out a few promising drugs that target mRNA and microRNA (miRNA). “Today there are many disease targets that are very challenging or even impossible to reach with small molecules or antibodies,” John Reed, head of Roche’s Research and Early Development, said in a statement. “We believe the LNA platform provides the means to efficiently discover and develop an important new class of medicines that may address the significant needs of patients across multiple therapeutic areas.”

According to Roche, the deal is expected to be finalized sometime this month, and Santaris will continue to operate out of its current location, just outside Copenhagen. The facilities there will be renamed the Roche Innovation Center Copenhagen.

The move makes another acquisition for Roche, which has actively sought out such deals in recent years. Last month, it purchased Seragon Pharmaceuticals for $1.725 billion. And in 2009, Roche acquired Genentech for a whopping $46.8 billion.