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28 February, 2014 - 08:23 By Tony Quested

Discuva wins Roche millions for superdrug to fight superbugs

Patrick Farrant, head of Technology at Taylor Vinters

Cambridge UK medical technology business Discuva has joined forces with Swiss pharma giant Roche to combat life-threatening infections caused by multi-drug resistant bacteria.

They have entered into a worldwide collaboration and licence agreement for the discovery and development of new antibiotics to treat life-threatening infections caused by multi-drug resistant Gram-negative bacteria using Discuva’s proprietary SATIN technology platform.

Discuva will receive an upfront payment of $16 million, research fees and payments on multiple programmes of up to $175m per product, upon achievement of certain development, commercialisation and sales milestones.

The Cambridge Science Park company will also receive royalties on sales of products originating from this collaboration, which can reach double digit if products are based on Discuva’s proprietary early-stage antibiotic programs.

Cambridge technology lawyers at Taylor Vinters have helped steer the deal to a successful conclusion.

Discuva’s SATIN (Selective Antibiotic Target IdentificatioN) is an advanced next-generation sequencing and bioinformatics platform applied to unique bacterial transposon libraries.

It is particularly suitable for identifying bacterial targets and selecting promising drug development candidates against multi-drug resistant bacteria.

Janet Hammond, head of infectious diseases for Roche Pharma Research and Early Development (pRED), believes the new partnership could be a game-changer.

She said: “Multi-drug resistant bacteria have become a genuine threat to public health worldwide. We are pleased to be collaborating with the very experienced team at Discuva and looking forward to using their unique technology platform to accelerate our efforts in antibiotic discovery and bringing antibiotic drug candidates forward quickly to help patients in need.”

David Williams, CEO of Discuva, added: “We are delighted to be working with the team at Roche to bring urgently needed new antibiotics to patients. The combination of Discuva’s leading-edge technologies with Roche’s extensive discovery and development expertise creates a real force for changing the way new and innovative medicines are created for patients.”

Patrick Farrant, head of Technology at Taylor Vinters, led the team advising Discuva on this transformational deal. He was supported by Dr David Rainford.

Farrant said: “It has been an exciting journey working alongside David Williams and the world-class team at Discuva. We are proud to be able to support such an revolutionary business whose new antibiotics will change the way medical professionals around the world treat diseases. We are also honoured to have advised Discuva on all legal issues from the outset, including funding and IP matters.”

Williams was suitably impressed. He saidL “It was a pleasure to work with such an outstanding legal team, who provided top-level support and advice throughout the whole transaction process with our new partners.”

• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Patrick Farrant

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