Roche has bought the rights to an experimental drug from Spain’s Oryzon Genomics that can switch on genes to block cancer growth, as the Swiss drugmaker looks to maintain its dominance in the lucrative field of oncology. The world’s largest maker of cancer drugs will pay Barcelona-based Oryzon $21 million in upfront and near-term milestone payments and could pay out more than $500 million if the company meets other goals. The deal will give Roche rights to Oryzon’s experimental drug ORY-1001 which was granted orphan drug status by European health regulators last year and is currently in early-stage clinical testing for acute myeloid leukaemia. Roche will also pay up to mid-double digit percentage royalties if the drug makes it to market.

ORY-1001 works by blocking an enzyme called Lysine Specific Demethylase 1 (LSD1), which turns off genes and has been identified as playing a role in certain types of leukaemia.The deal includes a two-year collaboration to develop LSD1 inhibitors at Roche’s Translational Clinical Research Centre in New York.

From all the Bionaturis´ team, just to say congratulations to our colleagues of Oryzon and the best wishes for the hard work ahead with Roche!