Pharma Focus Asia

Jnana Therapeutics Enters Collaboration with Roche to Discover Novel Medicines that Target Key Regulators of Cellular Metabolism to Treat Immune-Mediated and Neurological Diseases

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Jnana Therapeutics announced a strategic, multi-target collaboration and license agreement with Roche  for the discovery of small molecule drugs directed at the solute carrier (SLC) family of metabolite transporters as a broad, innovative approach for modulating cellular metabolism to treat immune-mediated and neurological diseases.

Under the terms of the agreement, Jnana will partner with Roche on discovery and preclinical development for a broad set of targets across immunology and neuroscience, which Roche will further develop and commercialize exclusively. Jnana will receive an upfront payment of $40 million in cash, and may receive research funding, preclinical, development and commercialization milestone payments, as well as royalties. The aggregate value of potential future payments to Jnana can exceed $1 billion.

“We are delighted to partner with Roche to pursue the untapped potential of SLC transporters as a new approach to develop medicines in major disease areas with high unmet medical need. This collaboration with Roche will expand the impact of Jnana’s platform so that, together, we can broadly address compelling SLC targets and bring new treatments to patients with immune-mediated and neurological diseases,” said Joanne Kotz, Ph.D., Co-founder, Chief Executive Officer and President of Jnana. “In addition, Jnana is continuing to develop our internal pipeline programs that target SLC transporters for diseases where patients have limited or no treatment options.”

“Partnering with biotech companies that have innovative approaches to drug discovery is an essential part of Roche’s research strategy. We are excited about Jnana’s small molecule approach to targeting SLC transporters, which represent a promising class of targets for discovering new medicines for patients across a range of diseases,” said James Sabry, Head of Roche Pharma Partnering.

SLC transporters are an important class of more than 450 human membrane proteins that are gatekeepers for controlling the movement of metabolites in and out of cells and organs. SLCs ensure metabolites – the chemical building blocks and nutrients essential for life – are present in the right place at the right time, which is crucial for health and often dysregulated in disease.

The drug discovery and research activities under the Roche-Jnana collaboration will leverage Jnana’s RAPID platform which is designed to overcome the challenges of directly targeting SLC transporters, a protein family diverse in structure and mechanism, and with a wide range of substrates and cellular locales. The RAPID platform is a cell-based, proprietary platform that can be used to screen small molecule libraries to identify novel modulators of any SLC transporter.

“We look forward to a highly collaborative relationship with Roche, in which Roche’s disease area expertise and leading R&D capabilities complement Jnana’s pioneering work in SLC biology and drug discovery. This agreement with Roche highlights the value of our RAPID platform which is breaking new ground for targeting SLC transporters with a systematic, highly efficient approach – with the goal of realizing the potential of this rich target class to discover new medicines for patients,” said Joel Barrish, Ph.D., Co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Jnana.

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