Drugs attacking estrogen receptors on a cancer cell. Image courtesy Genentech

Genentech announced Tuesday that it will acquire San Diego-based Seragon Pharmaceuticals, a developer of drugs to fight breast cancer, for $1.7 billion.

Seragon’s most advanced drug, ARN-810, is in Phase 1 clinical trial in patients with estrogen receptor positive, or ER+, metastatic breast cancer.

Founded in 2013, the company is developing therapies targeting ER+ breast cancer and other estrogen-driven cancers including endometrial and ovarian cancers.

“This year, breast cancer will claim the lives of nearly 40,000 women in the United States, and up to half of these women will have a disease that is driven by the estrogen receptor,” said Richard Scheller, head of Genentech Research and Early Development.

He said Genetech believes Seragon’s drugs “could one day redefine the standard of care for hormone receptor-positive breast cancer.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Genentech will make an upfront cash payment of $725 million, plus additional contingent payments of up to $1 billion based on achievement of certain predetermined milestones.

“The Seragon team has been committed to bringing new therapies to cancer patients and we are excited to have Genentech carry forward these programs,” said Richard Heyman, Seragon’s chief executive officer. “Genentech has repeatedly demonstrated its leadership position the oncology field, and their development and commercial capabilities in the breast cancer area are unparalleled.”

San Francisco-based Genentech is a member of the Swiss-based Roche Group.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.