San Diego-based Metabasis Therapeutics is getting a $10 million upfront injection from Roche to put its drug technology to work to find a new therapy for hepatitis C virus. In the event they find a drug candidate in the course of the two-year collaboration, Metabasis would be eligible for up to $193 million in milestones and Roche would have global commercialization rights.

"The HepDirect technology has shown significant promise in delivering the activated form of certain antiviral nucleosides to the liver and therefore has the potential to both enhance the antiviral activity of these nucleosides, as well as to lower the effective dose," says Dr. Mark Herion, the CSO at Metabasis. "A partnership with Roche enables Metabasis and Roche to combine their respective strengths in liver-targeting and hepatitis C research with the hope that this combination will lead to a drug candidate for HCV in the near future."