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Actelion’s founders were drawn together by successful collaboration, complementary skills and a belief in their collective scientific ideas. Having performed pioneering research at Roche, to characterize endothelin – a powerful blood vessel constrictor – and its receptors, the Roche team set out, to discover and develop a new class of anti-hypertensive drugs, so-called endothelin receptor antagonists (ERAs).
When Roche decided not to pursue this class of drugs the founders seized the opportunity to realize their ambition. Taking personal risk with their own funding, Actelion’s founders walked away from security at Roche, and following some additional financing, they negotiated the licensing of the compounds they had discovered and developed: tezosentan and bosentan.