Roche plans to buy Good Therapeutics’ lead drug program for $250 million. Plus milestone payments

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Pharma giant Roche will purchase Good Therapeutics, continuing to develop its flagship program just six years after the Seattle company was founded to create drugs that work only when they are required in the body.

Roche will pay an initial settlement of $225 million in exchange for the acquisition that will focus on an early-stage drug candidate in immuno-oncology. The agreement, announced Wednesday morning is accompanied by the possibility of future payments based on the development commercial, regulatory and milestones. The deal also grants rights to create similar agents that are based in the same platform.

The 26 employees on the Good Therapeutics team will remain in Seattle working under a brand new company, Bonum Therapeutics. (Bonum refers to “good” in Latin.)

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Good Therapeutics has additional programs in the early stages of development that focus on specific delivery and the regulation of other immune modulators such as interferon-alpha and TGF beta. These programs, as well as the basic technology have not been transferable onto Roche and will remain at Bonum.

It is anticipated close in the second quarter, subject to approval by antitrust regulators.

Good Therapeutics previously raised $600,000 in seed capital and $22 million in the Series A round of 2020, and $10 million from the recently completed series B funding round. Roche Venture Fund is an investor.

The company’s protein therapeutics can transform from inactive active when they attach to their targets. By controlling the place and time the drug is active, the strategy can target the effects to specific tissues or cells and limit the toxicity.

Good’s principal drug candidate releases a chemical known as the IL-2 to cells of the T cell that have the immuno marker PD-1. It shifts to an active state after it binds to PD-1 which increases the anti-tumor reaction. Roche has acquired exclusive right to the agent and also the rights to utilize its platform technology to develop other PD-1 controlled treatments for IL-2. This program will transfer onto Roche’s Research and Development division.

The IL-2 gene has been used for a long time as a target for drugs, because it has been proven to treat cancer. However, this immune modulator can be typically toxic when administered throughout the body. Pharmaceutical companies have tried various strategies to lessen the toxic effects of IL-2 while maximizing its value. Good’s strategy is an innovative approach to achieve this.

“Good Therapeutics was founded to create a new class of conditionally active therapeutics that will be more effective and avoid the problem of systemic immune activation seen with previous versions of such drugs,” stated Good Therapeutics’ founder and CEO John Mulligan in an announcement.

“Roche is a pioneer in immuno-oncology. He has also led the way in the development of engineered targeted PD-1 IL-2 therapies. With their experience in this field as well as their vast abilities in the field of oncology, we think that they are the perfect fit to move this vital program forward,”” Mulligan added. Mulligan remains Bonum’s Chief Executive Officer.

The previous investors of Good’s intend for investment into Bonum Therapeutics, said Mulligan in an blog article. Apart from Roche Venture Fund, other investors include Rivervest, Digitalis Ventures, 3×5 Partners and Codon Capital.

Mulligan has previously founded Glycostasis, the company that created an insulin-regulating protein levels. He also was co-founder of Cambrian Genomics, which created the laser printing method that prints DNA. He also served as a consultant with Microsoft on the development of a system to store information on DNA strands.

In a different blog post she discussed the idea of how to build a lean biotech firm through the hiring of “contrarians” and following a “no jerks” rule.

It justhired Neela Patel as chief business officer. She was also elevated Diane Hollenbaugh to chief scientist from the position of director of research. The technology was developed and developed by Good Therapeutics.

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