Biogen pursuing AGTC's ophthalmology gene therapy—for up to $1 billion
- AGTC has a portfolio of gene therapies to treat orphan eye diseases, and Biogen is offering up to $1 billion (and $124 million upfront) in order to gain access to them.
- Though the deal has a relatively complex structure, about half of the money will go towards two specific lead therapies for x-linked retinoschisis (XLRS) and x-Linked Retinitis pigmentosa (XLRP).
- Biogen also has the right to license three other indications for AGTC's gene therapy technology, including future clinical candidates.
Lately, Biogen's interest in gene therapy has increased as the company has determined that the technology, especially the delivery technology, has improved by orders of magnitude in the last 10 years. In fact, Biogen recently decided to team up with a non-profit organization, Fondazione Telethon, and a research institutution, Ospedale San Raffaele, in Italy to develop gene therapies to address hemophilia A and B.
Here's what's special about this deal, besides the sheer size of it: AGTC uses an adeno-associated virus as a gene-delivery vector that can be produced at a commercial scale, thanks to AGTC's patented production method. Also, as part of this deal, Biogen has a license to use AGTC's technology to make its own vectors.
However, AGTC has decided to not include two specific programs in the deal—and to retain 100% of the rights over some of its prospects, including a very promising program for achromatopsia.