- Bamboo Therapeutics, a North Carolina-based gene therapy biotech company, is now a subsidiary of Pfizer. The pharmaceutical giant announced Monday it had acquired all of Bamboo's equity for $150 million upfront and a potential $495 million in milestone payments for the biotech's pipeline.
- The deal provides Pfizer with a gene therapy manufacturing facility, and four pipeline clinical programs developing therapies for four monogenic diseases: Giant anoxal nueropathy, Canavan disease, Friedrich's ataxia, and Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
- Bamboo's manufacturing facility can produce adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors, which are crucial for gene therapies addressing rare diseases caused by single genetic mutations. Pfizer is focusing on expanding its gene therapy capabilities, claiming aspirations to leadership, and has various research collaborations related to the vector and at least one AAV-based hemophilia treatment in the pipeline.
Pfizer has steadily expanded its gene therapy research capabilities since it announced a dedicated gene therapy-based research program in 2014.
Since then, the company has engaged in various partnerships with academic facilities like King's College London, and biotech companies such as Spark Therapeutics and 4D Molecular Therapeutics to advance its gene therapy pipeline.
Pfizers's acquisition of Bamboo Therapeutics follows the trend, as the small biotech is a clinical development company born out of an academic research institution. Bamboo is a two-year old biotech company "formed to advance the work of Dr. Richard Jude Samulski, the Director of the Gene Therapy Center at the University of North Carolina" and the company's founding Chief Scientific Officer.
But perhaps the most important facet of the deal is the new manufacturing facility Pfizer will pick up. In January, Bamboo acquired the University of North Carolina's Vector Core facility, an 11,000 square foot facility with a long production history for a diverse set of clients.
"We believe that having a leading manufacturing facility fully integrated into our business provides flexibility and a competitive advantage," stated Samulski at the time. "We anticipate rapidly moving our programs forward, including our DMD program, which is expected to enter the clinic in early 2017."
And Pfizer appeared to agree. Later that quarter, Pfizer purchased 22% of the company's equity, and with this week's deal, Bamboo is Pfizer's wholly-owned subsidiary.
“We believe Bamboo’s industry leading capabilities in rAAV vector design and manufacturing complement Pfizer’s rare disease strategy and help advance Pfizer’s mission to deliver life-changing innovation to patients with the greatest needs,” said Gregory LaRosa, Chief Scientific Officer of Pfizer's Rare Disease Research Unit.
"Bringing together Pfizer and Bamboo colleagues’ deep scientific understanding of both rAAV biology and complex biologic manufacturing will help position us for success in this area," added LaRosa. Samulski officially joined Pfizer's team on Friday and will collaborate with the broader rare disease research unit through his work at Bamboo.