Inflazome snapped up in €380m deal with pharma giant Roche

21 Sep 2020

From left: Inflazome chair Dr Manus Rogan; Dr Matt Cooper, co-founder and CEO; Prof Luke O’Neill, co-founder and chief scientific officer; and Dr Jeremy Skillington, vice-president of business development. Image: Nick Bradshaw

Dublin-based Inflazome has agreed to transfer its pharma portfolio to Swiss multinational pharma giant Roche in a €380m acquisition deal.

Just four years after it was founded, Inflazome has been snapped up in a multimillion-euro deal. The Dublin-based start-up announced today (21 September) that Swiss multinational healthcare firm Roche will pay €380m to acquire the company and its portfolio, which is looking to address unmet clinical needs in inflammatory diseases by targeting inflammasomes.

Founded by Prof Matt Cooper of the University of Queensland and Prof Luke O’Neill of Trinity College Dublin, the start-up has raised €55m in venture capital financing from investors including Forbion, Longitude Capital, Fountain Healthcare Partners and Novartis Venture Fund. This includes a €40m Series B round raised in 2018 and $1m in funding from the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research last year.

Inflazome’s portfolio includes clinical and preclinical orally available small molecule NLRP3 inhibitors, which Roche intends to further develop. As part of the deal, Inflazome shareholders received €380m upfront and are eligible to receive additional milestone payments.

“We are delighted to close this deal with Roche, an outstanding pharmaceutical company with a broad commitment to multiple indications,” said Cooper, who is Inflazome’s CEO.

“With Inflazome now part of the Roche organisation, Inflazome’s pioneering molecules are well positioned to be developed quickly and effectively so they can help patients suffering from debilitating diseases.”

Orphan drug status

Manus Rogan, chair and co-founding investor of Inflazome, added that the start-up has been “a privilege” to work with.

“The company, which was established just four years ago, developed a portfolio of clinical and preclinical molecules with a lean, highly experienced team and limited invested capital,” he said.

Inflammasomes are understood to drive many chronic inflammatory conditions, from Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s to asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, chronic kidney disease, cardiovascular disease and arthritis.

In July, Inflazome’s Inzomelid medication was granted orphan drug status from the US Food and Drug Administration, an important regulatory milestone granted to drugs that are intended to treat rare diseases and conditions. The drug is used for the treatment of Cryopyrin-Associated Periodic Syndrome, a rare autoinflammatory orphan disease driven by a mutation affecting the NLRP3 inflammasome.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic