Roche snaps up diagnostics firm for $425M as part of antibiotics refocus
- Roche has struck a deal worth up to $425 million to snag California-based diagnostics firm GeneWeave Biosciences. The deal includes a $190 million upfront payment.
- The tactical move is part of a larger strategy for Roche to refocus efforts on antibiotic development. The company will reportedly also bring GeneWeave staffers into the fold, and not just the company's technology.
- GeneWeave has a tech platform called Smarticles that can analyze bacteria and match them with the antibiotic that's most likely to be effective against them—and can ostensibly do all of that in a matter of hours.
It's obvious that a solid diagnostics platform is an important strategic buy for any company trying to conduct antibiotic development. But the real story here is Roche's—and other firms'—creeping recommitement to antibiotics research.
One of the biggest hurdles to more antibiotic drug development is an incentive structure that leaves many biopharma companies apathetic. Development costs are high while profit margins are low, meaning many firms see such R&D efforts as thankless.
But there's been an increased focus on antibiotic development as lawmakers and global health authorities spotlight the dangers of multidrug-resistant bacteria, spurring companies to take up this R&D mantle. And the skewed incentive structure could be in for a overhaul, too. For instance, the 21st Century Cures FDA and drug development reform bill that overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives in July includes expedited incentives for antibiotic development, such as allowing the use of early-stage (and less expensive) clinical trials to support FDA approval of these treatments.