Tusk Therapeutics to be acquired by Roche

Tusk Therapeutics Ltd has been acquired by Roche. Tusk was founded in 2014 by Droia Oncology Ventures, Tusk’s majority shareholder. Under the terms of the agreement, Tusk’s shareholders will receive an upfront cash payment of Euro 70 million, plus additional contingent payments of up to Euro 585 million based on achievements of certain predetermined milestones.

Tusk Therapeutics is a privately held immuno-oncology company focused on discovering and developing therapeutic antibodies that harness the power of the immune system to transform the treatment of cancer. The Company’s lead programme consists of a first-in-class antibody for the depletion of regulatory T-cells, based on the work of Dr. Sergio Quezada. The Company has strategic partnerships and licensing agreements with top research institutes including Cancer Research Technology, Cancer Research UK’s commercial arm and University College London.

Tusk has developed an antibody with a novel mode of action aimed at depleting regulatory T-cells (Tregs). Tregs suppress immune responses, including those against cancer cells. Preclinical data has shown that depleting Tregs from the tumour microenvironment can enhance and/or restore anti-tumour immunity. Tusk’s antibody has been designed to deplete these harmful Tregs, while not interfering with other immune cells acting against the tumour. Tusk’s program is expected to start clinical trials in cancer patients towards the end of 2019.

Droia invests in promising new cancer therapies and accelerates their progress by actively supporting young drug development companies to achieve clinical proof of concept with their lead programs. Droia has an in-house team of drug development professionals who offer hands-on support. Operating from Luxembourg and Belgium, Droia invests globally with its portfolio companies split equally between Europe and the US.

Luc Dochez, Chief Executive Officer of Tusk Therapeutics, said: “We are delighted that Roche will further develop this novel antibody and drive the development ahead. The remaining portfolio of our immune-oncology targets will be further developed by Black Belt Therapeutics, a newly formed company spun out of Tusk Therapeutics.”