Chugai signs licensing agreement with Roche


For an investigational, humanised monoclonal antibody

Chugai Pharmaceutical, one of Japan’s leading research based pharmaceutical companies, has concluded a licensing agreement with Roche for SA237, an investigational, humanised monoclonal antibody designed to target the IL-6 receptor, created by Chugai.

SA237 was invented by Chugai to block the activity of the IL-6 receptor, and successfully applies Chugai’s proprietary antibody-recycling technology. This design enables the antibody to bind to the target antigen repeatedly to extend the activity of antibodies.

With its design, SA237 is expected to show clinical benefits with small injection volumes and long intervals between injections. Two multinational pivotal phase III studies with patients suffering with neuromyelitis optica, an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system characterised by severe inflammation of the optic nerve and spinal cord, are currently being conducted by Chugai in more than ten countries, including US, Europe and Asia.

'This agreement demonstrates the potential of SA237, which utilises our unique antibody-engineering technology,' said Chugai’s President and Chief Operating Officer, Tatsuro Kosaka. 'Currently, there are no approved drugs available for the treatment of neuromyelitis optica. Chugai, together with Roche, is determined to pursue a joint effort in accelerating development of SA237 to bring a viable treatment option to patients living with this debilitating disease.'

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Under the agreement, Chugai would grant Roche an exclusive licence for the development and marketing of SA237 worldwide, with the exception of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Chugai will continue to be responsible for product manufacturing and supply of SA237. As per the agreement, Chugai would receive an upfront fee, milestone and royalty payments from Roche.