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ARM Innovation Hub
3 January, 2018 - 15:03 By Tony Quested

Cambridge bug-buster sold for £10m but Roche milestones will still kick-in

Bug-busting technology company Discuva Limited in Cambridge has been sold to drug discovery and development company Summit Therapeutics in a £10 million cash-plus-shares deal.

Summit is quoted on Nasdaq, the US technology stockmarket, and on AIM in the UK where the business is anchored in Oxford.

Discuva’s IP will be used to develop a novel cohort of antibiotics to fight rare and infectious diseases at a time when bacteria has never proved so tough to eliminate in hospitals and other medical environments.

The acquisition expands Summit's interests in infectious diseases that are led by its flagship precision C. difficile infection (CDI) antibiotic candidate ridinilazole.

The company says it is now better placed to advance additional potential drug treatments for patients with serious bacterial infections where there is substantial unmet need, while in parallel continuing to advance its clinical and research programme in Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Summit CEO Glyn Edwards said: “The global threat from multi-drug resistant bacterial infections continues to rise. There are few new antibiotics in development, with most of those being iterations of known classes of antibiotics, meaning there is an urgent need for the development of novel antibiotics.

“With the acquisition, Summit is positioned as a leader in the research and development of new classes of antibiotics as exemplified by our precision antibiotic candidate ridinilazole for the treatment of C. difficile infection. Using this platform, we aim to generate a pipeline of new mechanism of action antibiotics that address other serious infectious disease threats.”

The platform is utilising proprietary libraries of multiple pathogens associated with antibiotic resistance. These provide excellent coverage against the ESKAPE pathogens, a leading cause of multi-drug resistance and hospital acquired infections throughout the world, and pathogens listed as urgent or serious threats by the US Centers for Disease Control.
With activity demonstrated against a number of these bacterial targets, and a research collaboration between Discuva and Roche, the platform has already shown promise.

Discuva shareholders, staff and former directors remain set for potential future milestone windfalls under a collaboration agreement that Discuva has with F. Hoffmann – La Roche Limited (Roche).

Swiss giant Roche is obligated to pay specified development, commercialisation and sales milestone payments related to any compound developed under the platform that is or has been optioned by Roche. 
Summit is obligated to pay to Discuva shareholders one-half of the economic benefit of any such payments received from Roche.

Separately, certain employees, former employees and former directors of Discuva are eligible for payments from Discuva based on specified development and clinical milestones related to proprietary product candidates developed under the platform.

Business Weekly reported the Roche deal to fight superbugs at the end of February 2014. Novel solutions are being sought leveraging Discuva’s proprietary SATIN technology platform.

Discuva scooped an upfront payment of $16 million, research fees and payments on multiple programmes of up to $175m per product, upon achievement of certain development, commercialisation and sales milestones. Then based at Cambridge Science Park and led by CEO David Williams, Discuva revealed that it would also receive royalties on sales of products originating from the collaboration, which could reach double digit if products were based on Discuva’s proprietary early-stage antibiotic programmes.

• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: David Williams

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