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Roche Madison, formerly part of Mirus Bio Corp., has been purchased by Arrowhead Research Corp., of Pasadena, Calif.

Roche Madison, 545 Science Drive in University Research Park, has more than 40 scientists who will stay with the company, according to Monday's announcement.

Mirus Bio was founded in 1995 based on UW-Madison research and developed a platform using RNA interference technology that turns off certain genes, for use in drug discovery. That division was split off and sold to Roche in 2008 for $125 million.

"The Madison team is second to none and we are thrilled to welcome them to Arrowhead," Christopher Anzalone, president and chief executive of the publicly traded California company, said in a news release.

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He said Roche Madison's staff has generated large amounts of data involving "multiple generations" of its technology. "We have not seen any RNAi delivery technology with better efficiency or tolerability," Anzalone said.

As part of the transaction, Roche is getting a minority stake in Arrowhead as well as milestone payments of $2.5 million to $6 million each, royalties on sales of any products that result and rights to negotiate for future products.

The Swiss pharmaceutical company said in November 2010 that it would end its RNAi research operations in Madison and in Nutley, N.J., and Kulmbach, Germany, by the end of 2011.

Arrowhead is described on the company website as "a nanomedicine company developing innovative therapeutic products at the interface of biology and nanoengineering." The company says it is focused on developing treatments for cancer and obesity and for healing wounded or diseased tissue.

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