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The Cambridge biotech firm Tensha Therapeutics, which develops gene-based treatments for cancer and other diseases, is being acquired by the Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche Holdings, Tensha announced Tuesday.

The $535 million deal for the privately held company -- $115 million up front and contingent payments of up to $420 million when the company hits development goals -- is anticipated to be completed in the first quarter of the year.

Tensha was founded by James E. Bradner, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and formerly a physician at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The company is based on Bradner’s work with bromodomain and extra terminal domain proteins, known as BET proteins, which activate growth control genes in cancer. Tensha has developed a technology that disrupts BET proteins and is currently working on a compound to treat patients with solid tumors.

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“BET proteins are a highly promising class of therapeutic targets in cancer,” Bradner said in a statement. “BET inhibitors function as targeted therapy in rare cancers with BET gene rearrangements ... and in common cancers as a means of inhibiting the function of the master growth control genes.”

Tensha is managed and funded by HealthCare Ventures, a Cambridge life science venture capital firm focusing on treatments in the early clinical stage.

The company did not respond to a request for additional comment.


Katie Johnston can be reached at katie.johnston@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @ktkjohnston.