Drug discovery startup will contribute to cancer immunotherapy projects aimed at kinase enzymes

Drug discovery startup Blueprint Medicines has agreed a research collaboration with Roche to develop small molecule drugs aimed at cancer immunotherapy targets.

Blueprint specialises in developing molecules that interact with kinases – enzymes that add phosphate groups onto other proteins or substrate molecules. Kinases are involved in numerous cell-signalling pathways. The projects covered by this deal relate to kinases implicated in modulating our immune system’s response to tumours. Roche is one of a host of companies developing new cancer medicines that harness the immune system.

The deal is heavily performance-related. Roche will pay $45 million (£31 million) up front, with up to $965 million on offer as projects progress, plus royalties on any products that make it to market.