Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis has acquired gene therapy company Vedere Bio in a deal valued at around $280m.
Under the deal, Vedere shareholders have secured $150m upfront payment and also eligible to secure up to $130m in milestone payments.
Vedere Bio has an advanced platform for adeno-associated viruses (AAV) based delivery of gene therapies, as well as an optogenetics programme to help treat and prevent vision loss and blindness.
Under the deal, Novartis acquired light-sensing proteins that can be delivered to cells in the retina and AAV delivery vectors that facilitate treatment through intravitreal injection.
The acquisition of Vedere Bio will allow Novartis to expand its footprint in ophthalmology, as well as improve its position as an AAV-based gene therapy provider.
Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research president Jay Bradner said: “The next frontier in ophthalmology involves finding ways to bring potentially transformative gene therapies to a broader patient population.
“The acquisition of Vedere Bio reflects our commitment to next-generation gene therapy and brings hope to patients with otherwise untreatable forms of vision loss.”
Vedere Bio was formed based on technology from the laboratories of Drs Ehud Isacoff and John G. Flannery of UC Berkeley, and technology directed at enhanced ocular gene therapy delivery arising jointly between UC Berkeley and the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
Before the acquisition, certain earlier-stage vision restoration and vision preservation assets leveraging Vedere Bio’s ocular gene therapy toolbox have been spun out into a newly formed entity, called Vedere Bio II.
Vedere Bio II, which will run as a wholly independent entity from Novartis and Vedere Bio, will focus on the development of a pipeline of novel vision restoration and vision preservation medicines.
Vedere Bio president and CEO Cyrus Mozayeni said: “Our sale to Novartis is an important milestone in advancing Vedere Bio’s most advanced programs to patients around the world. At the same time, I look forward to working with our experienced team to advance our highly innovative, earlier stage assets as part of the newly established Vedere Bio II.”
In August this year, Novartis secured approval from the European Commission (EC) for its Cosentyx (secukinumab) to treat moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis in children and adolescents aged between six and 18 years.