The multinational healthcare company Roche has acquired a programme for the treatment of cystic fibrosis and other respiratory diseases, developed by biopharmaceutical company and Sussex Innovation tenants, Enterprise Therapeutics Ltd (Enterprise).

Enterprise is dedicated to the discovery and development of novel therapies to improve the lives of patients suffering with respiratory disease. The company was co-founded by Prof Martin Gosling, a Professor of Molecular Pharmacology at the University of Sussex, who is also its Chief Scientific Officer. It benefits from a close working relationship with the University’s School of Life Sciences – Henry Danahay, the Head of Biology at Enterprise also holds an honorary position in the Sussex Drug Discovery Centre, which sits within the academic school.

This week, Enterprise announced that its novel TMEM16A potentiator portfolio has been fully acquired by Roche and will be developed by Genentech, a member of the Roche Group. Potentiators are compounds shown to intensify the effect of a given drug treatment. Enterprise’s shareholders received an upfront payment of £75 million and are elligible to receive additional contingent payments, to be made based on the achievement of certain predetermined milestones.

The portfolio focuses on treatments for cystic fibrosis, with the potential to benefit people with other severe respiratory diseases characterised by excessive mucus congestion. It includes a compound, ETD002, which recently entered Phase 1 clinical trials.

“Roche and Genentech have a proven track record of bringing new medicines to people with respiratory diseases, and have recognised the opportunity that our TMEM16A potentiator portfolio presents,” said Dr John Ford, CEO, Enterprise Therapeutics. “I am very proud of the team at Enterprise for identifying and developing this innovative approach to treat patients, with ETD002 the first of our compounds to reach clinical stage. TMEM16A potentiation has the potential to significantly increase the quality of life for people living with cystic fibrosis, for many of whom existing therapies are not effective.”

Cystic fibrosis is estimated to affect 75,000 people globally. Due to mucus congestion in the lungs, patients suffer from difficulty breathing and increased risk of infection. The ETD002 compound targets the underlying mechanisms of mucus congestion, and is expected to restore lung function, reduce the frequency of lung infections and improve patient quality of life.

“We are excited to add Enterprise’s TMEM16A potentiator program to our existing respiratory portfolio,” said Dr James Sabry, MD, PhD, Global Head of Pharma Partnering at Roche. “We have deep capabilities in this area and look forward to a robust program focused on helping cystic fibrosis patients and patients suffering from other muco-obstructive disorders as quickly as possible.”

Enterprise Therapeutics is a drug discovery company dedicated to the research and development of novel therapies for the treatment of respiratory diseases.