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Pfizer buys gene therapy specialist Bamboo

Expands pipeline with Duchenne muscular dystrophy candidate in deal worth $700m
Pfizer

Pfizer has made a play for a larger chunk of the emerging gene therapy market, agreeing a $700m deal to acquire Bamboo Therapeutics.

The big pharma group has taken control of Bamboo with a $150m upfront payment that adds to an earlier minority stake in the company bought for $43m earlier this year. Another $495m will go to Bamboo's investors if its gene therapy programmes make it through development and onto the market.

Bamboo specialises in viral gene therapy vectors used to insert gene sequences into target cells, and has built a position in adeno-associated virus (AAV) gene delivery.

The North Carolina-based company has already started clinical testing of a candidate for giant axonal neuropathy - a single-gene disorder that causes problems with movement, sensory systems and mental function - and is planning to start a trial in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) next year.

This is Pfizer's second acquisition in the gene therapy category after it bought Spark Therapeutics at the end of 2014 in a deal valued at $20m upfront and $260m in milestone payments.

The Spark acquisition gave Pfizer a lead gene therapy candidate called SPK-FIX for haemophilia B and was followed by the creation of a London-based research unit headed by gene therapy researcher Michael Linden. Buying Bamboo extends its pipeline and also gives a gene therapy manufacturing facility that Bamboo recently acquired from the University of North Carolina.

The acquisition mirrors an increased appetite among big pharma companies to get involved in gene therapy, which is undergoing something of a renaissance after early attempts to develop products in the 1990s and 2000s largely ended in failure.

There are still only a handful of gene therapies on the market. SiBiono GeneTech led the way after getting approval for head and neck cancer therapy Gendicine in China in 2004, and this has since been joined by Shanghai Biotech's Oncorine - another head and neck cancer therapy - as well as HSCI's Neovasculgen for peripheral arterial disease.

In Europe the only approved gene therapy is uniQure's lipoprotein lipase deficiency treatment Glybera, although the EU's Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) recently recommended approval of GlaxoSmithKline's Strimvelis (GSK2696273) for the rare inherited disease ADA-SCID.

uniQure's success prompted Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) to sign a $1bn agreement with the biotech for the development of gene therapies for heart failure, while other recent examples include an $845m agreement between Sanofi's Genzyme division and Voyager, Bayer' $252m partnership with Dimension Therapeutics and a $2bn deal between Biogen and the University of Pennsylvania.

Article by
Phil Taylor

2nd August 2016

From: Sales

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