Roche has acquired the Austrian biotech company Dutalys, a specialist in the discovery and development of bi-specific antibodies, for a total sum of $489 million. Dutalys was founded in April 2010 with seed financing from Austria Wirtschaftsservice. Roche will make an upfront cash payment of $133.75 million and additional payments of up to $355 million if certain predetermined milestones are reached. The deal strengthens Roche’s leading position in the development of therapeutic antibodies.

Bi-specific antibody therapy is an emerging technology based on artificial proteins composed of fragments of two different monoclonal antibodies, which can bind in two different places in a disease pathway. Dutalys’ proprietary technology is able to create fully human bi-specific antibodies and is still at an early stage in the drug development process. According to Roche, it could provide novel molecules for several therapeutic areas.