Roche, Inception-Versant Create Company to Develop MS Therapies

June 23, 2014

Swiss drugmaker Roche said it will join Inception Sciences and its backer, Versant Ventures in the creation of a new company, Inception 5, to develop small molecule remyelinating therapies for patients with multiple sclerosis.

Roche will fund the research based on a series of milestones, while Versant will provide an undisclosed amount of equity, the two companies said. Roche has an option to buy the company, it added, should a first lead compound reach the filing stage of an investigational new drug application.

The partnership will screen and develop small molecule therapies that encourage remyelination of nerve sheaths damaged as a result of multiple sclerosis disease progression, the companies said. Myelin is the substance that makes up nerve sheaths, and it’s also what the immune system mistakes for a pathogen. The progression of the disease leaves holes in the myelin, and leads to a wide and erratic range of neurological problems.

Drugmakers have been able to produce drugs that help control the immune system’s attack, but no current medicine is able to reverse actual myelin damage.

Inception 5 will test Roche’s vast library of compounds using a remyelination screening platform developed by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, Roche said. Inception’s drug discovery scientists will also try to design new compounds, the companies said. — Kellen Owings

Subscribe to Drug Industry Daily for complete coverage of the pharmaceutical industry. Click here for more information.