RALEIGH – Icagen, the Raleigh-based firm focused on small molecule research with potential for use in new drugs, has landed a deal worth as much as $274 million with drug giant Roche.

Icagen recently was sold to San Diego-based Ligan Pharmaceuticials in a $15 million deal.

Icagen and Roche will work on a possible treatment for neurogenerative disease.

“Icagen’s collaboration with Roche was a key value-driver in the acquisition of the Icagen business, and we are very pleased to see this expansion and extension of the relationship,” said John Higgins, Chief Executive Officer of Ligand, in a statement.

“This type of deal fits perfectly within the Ligand strategy to establish and leverage partnerships with global leaders in the industry as they look to access our technology for their drug discovery and development needs. The Icagen team has been a great addition to Ligand’s business.”

Roche made an upfront payment for an undisclosed amount and will provide research funding to icagen. Icagen is eligible to receive development and commercial milestone paymenets up to $274 million plus royalties if a drug is dseveloped.

“We are pleased to extend and expand our collaboration with Roche and its drug discovery team in Basel,” said Icagen Site Head Douglas Krafte in the announcement. “Our initial neurology program with Roche continues to make great progress and we hope to assist Roche in bringing multiple meaningful therapies to patients in areas of neurological disease with major unmet needs through both our initial and this new program.”

Ligand announced the acquisition of Icagen in April and said the firm would remain based in Raleigh.

Raleigh-based Icagen now part of San Diego pharma firm after $15M deal