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Cell & Gene Therapy Insights

Cell & Gene Therapy Insights

Biogen acquires Nightstar Therapeutics to expand its gene therapy portfolio

With its latest acquisition of Nightstar Therapeutics, a clinical-stage gene therapy company developing gene therapies for rare inherited retinal diseases, Biogen aims to become a major gene therapy player in the ophthalmology sector.

Biogen will pay $877 million (€772 million) to Nightstar and it will have control of all of Nightstar’s clinical-phase ophthalmology assets.

Biogen’s interest in gene therapy to treat eye diseases started in 2015 when it signed a deal and paid an upfront fee of $124 million to Applied Genetic Technologies Corporation (AGTC). However, Biogen ended the contract with AGTC after its lead candidate failed in a Phase 1/2 trial last year.

The current acquisition will combine Nightstar’s gene therapy expertise in retinal diseases with Biogen’s expertise in rare diseases, global reach and extensive resources.

A spinout of Oxford University, Nightstar has advanced two gene therapies targeting retinal indications through the clinic since its formation in 2013. A phase 3 trial of its lead candidate, NSR-REP1, is set to finish enrolling choroideremia patients in the coming months. Its NSR-RPGR program for X-linked retinitis pigmentosa (XLRP) is in Phase 1/2. The company has 5 other programs in pre-clinical development.

Nightstar is competing with AGTC and MeiraGTx for its XLRP gene therapy, and with Spark Therapeutics for choroideremia. The back-to-back acquisitions of Spark and Nightstar will see a race between Roche and Biogen for choroideremia gene therapy, however Nightstar has the advantage right now as Spark is still in the Phase 1/2.

The acquisition is expected to become effective by mid-2019 and under the terms of the acquisition, Biogen has offered $25.50 per share in cash to Nightstar’s shareholders. That values a 70% premium to the 30 trading day volume-weighted average price per share.

Michel Vounatsos, Biogen’s CEO said in a statement: “Ophthalmology is an emerging growth area for Biogen and Nightstar would accelerate our entry into ophthalmology by contributing two mid- to late-stage gene therapy assets”.

Source: Nightstar Therapeutics plc reaches agreement to be acquired by Biogen; Press Release

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