- Takeda has gained access to as many as eight gene therapy programs through a freshly inked deal with the San Diego-based biotech Poseida Therapeutics.
- Per deal terms, the companies will use Poseida's suite of genetic engineering technologies to develop up to six so-called in vivo programs, meaning the gene therapy does its work inside the body as opposed to in extracted cells. Takeda, which will provide funding for research and development, may also add two more programs to the collaboration.
- In exchange for its work, Poseida will receive $45 million up front along with preclinical research payments that could exceed $125 million, provided all six initial programs hit certain targets. Poseida could later take home up to $3.6 billion if all eight programs covered in the deal achieve clinical, regulatory and commercial milestones.
Despite a recent series of safety concerns, gene therapies continue to draw interest and investment from the world's most powerful drug companies. In just the last month or so, both Pfizer and AbbVie formed collaborations with small gene therapy developers. And Novartis, which already spent nearly $9 billion back in 2018 to acquire AveXis, also announced in late September that it was buying another biotech focused on genetic treatments, Arctos Medical.
Takeda and Poseida are now adding to this recent spree of deals. For Takeda, which has been slower than some of its peers in establishing a foothold in cell and gene therapy research, the partnership offers another way to catch up.
In particular, Takeda seems enticed by Poseida's engineering platform, which is designed to very precisely edit genetic material and then be able to deliver large amounts of it into cells. The goal is to develop treatments that don't use viruses as delivery vehicles, an approach first-generation gene therapies rely on, but which has notable limitations. Poseida's technology is part of a growing wave of research into newer methods that can expand gene therapy's reach.
Madhu Natarajan, Takeda's head of rare disease drug discovery, said in a statement that Poseida's technologies should complement the company's existing collaborations. Over the past year and a half, Takeda has placed bets on multiple other gene therapy biotechs with newer gene therapy technologies, including Ensoma, Selecta Biosciences and Carmine Therapeutics.
Working with Poseida "reinforces Takeda's commitment to investing in next-generation gene therapy approaches that have the potential to deliver functional cures to patients with rare genetic and hematologic diseases," Natarajan said. Among the six programs initially covered in the deal is one for hemophilia A, a disease that has been a prime target for many leading gene therapy developers.
Moving forward, Poseida is in charge of research activities for each program until the candidate selection stage, after which Takeda is responsible for further testing and commercializing the therapy. Currently, all of Poseida's gene therapy programs are in preclinical or earlier stages of development.
Posieda's share price rose nearly 6% following announcement of the Takeda deal, but quickly backtracked to break even. Shares traded at $6.38 apiece late Tuesday morning, reflecting about two-thirds of the value they held at the start of the year.