Roche gains hep C candidate with InterMune pact

Shares of InterMune shot up 29 percent yesterday afternoon after the Brisbane, CA-based biotech announced it would pocket $60 million upfront and up to $470 million more after inking a collaboration deal with Roche. The pact centers on using InterMune's HCV protease inhibitor program--which includes the preclinical program ITMN-191--for developing new therapies for hepatitis C. The agreement also includes a commitment to work together to develop another generation of hep C drugs. This is a particularly rich package for InterMune. Roche will pay 67 percent of the development costs and the two companies will split any U.S. profits on the compound.

"We believe that protease inhibitors may become an important new component of HCV treatments," said Peter Hug, global head of pharma partnering for Roche. Roche's deal is designed to make it more competitive with investigational hepatitis C programs being advanced by Vertex and Schering-Plough. Both VX-950 and SCH 503034 are in Phase II trials.

- here's the report on the licensing deal from