Roche Acquires MS Remyelination Program from Versant Ventures

Versant Ventures today announced that Roche Holdings Inc. has acquired the Inception 5 program, focused on regenerative therapies for multiple sclerosis.

The acquisition is the culmination of a June 2014 alliance between Inception and Roche to discover and develop novel small molecules that promote remyelination of nerve fibers damaged during the progression of multiple sclerosis. Versant Ventures backed the project with equity financing, and Roche provided research funding to secure an option to acquire a specific program upon delivery of an IND-enabling package. The specific target of the acquired program is not disclosed.
During the following 3.5 years, Inception scientists translated discoveries made at the University of California, San Francisco, aimed at the identification and validation of novel targets for remyelination, into a development-stage small molecule program for multiple sclerosis.

“It is gratifying to see another successful outcome within Versant’s Discovery Engine network,” said Brad Bolzon, managing director and chair of the investment team at Versant. “We continue to leverage collaborative business models with pharma partners, especially in emerging fields such as this. We thank Roche for their confidence in the potential of our partnership to produce an entirely new class of therapeutics for multiple sclerosis and other demyelinating diseases.”

Versant is using the success of the Inception 5 program to launch Pipeline Therapeutics, a successor company led by the same operating team and a broadened network of academic founders. Pipeline will build an expanded platform to identify the next generation of neuro-regenerative therapies.

The successor company is solely backed by Versant and expects to seek syndicate financing and industry partners by 2019. Versant Ventures is a global healthcare investment firm committed to helping exceptional entrepreneurs build the next generation of great healthcare companies. The firm has $2.3 billion under management and invests across the healthcare sector and at all stages of company development, with an emphasis on the discovery and development of novel therapeutics