Switzerland-based pharma giant, Roche Holdings Ltd. (RHHBY) recently announced that it has entered into an agreement with Seaside Therapeutics for the development of treatments for neurodevelopmental disorders — fragile X syndrome (FXS) and autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

As per the terms of the agreement, Roche will lead the development of mGluR5 antagonists and Seaside will lead the development of the GABA-B agonist program for the treatment of FXS and ASD. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Seaside will license patents covering the use of mGluR5 antagonists to Roche. Roche, on the other hand, will undertake the development and commercialization of mGluR5 antagonists for the treatment of FXS and ASD.

Roche’s mGluR5 antagonist, RG7090, may represent potential to correct FXS even if the treatment is started after the onset of the disease. Roche is currently enrolling patients for a phase II study with RG7090.

Seaside will retain its rights to patents covering the use of GABA-B agonists for the treatment of FXS and ASD. Seaside will undertake the development of GABA-B agonists for these neurodevelopmental disorders.

Seaside’s lead pipeline candidate, STX209 is an oral selective GABA-B agonist. STX209 is currently being evaluated in two phase III studies for FXS and a phase IIb study for ASD. In September 2010 and July 2010, Seaside reported positive results from trials evaluating the drug for ASD and FXS, respectively.

On completion of specific development phases, Roche has the option to undertake the marketing responsibility of STX209.

Roche carries a Zacks #3 Rank (Hold rating) in the short-run.

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