Blue Bell-based Inovio Pharmaceuticals signs deal with Roche

Blue Bell-based start up Inovio Pharmaceuticals signed a partnership deal with Swiss-based drugmaker Roche that pays $10 million up front but could yield as much as $412 million if Inovio's prostate cancer and hepatitis B immunotherapy products pan out.

Revenue from the sale of drugs derived from the compounds - an innovative process is also part of the deal - are a long way off. The testing completed has only been on animals.

Roche, which is based in Basel and has operations in New Jersey, will provide research and development support to Inovio. The potentially big payout down the road depends on drugs meeting clinical and then sales milestones.

"This partnership represents an important milestone in Inovio's growth and maturing product portfolio. Roche brings to our immunotherapy candidates its leadership position and track record for developing and marketing innovative first-in-class therapies," Inovio President and Chief Executive Officer J. Joseph Kim said in a statement. "Collaborating with the world's preeminent oncology development partner allows us to rapidly advance two of our promising near-clinical stage immunotherapy products from our product pipeline."