Janssen plunks down $100M for MeiraGTx’s retinal disease gene therapy pipeline

Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen is ramping up its gene therapy work, forking over $100 million up front to develop MeiraGTx’s clinical-stage gene therapies for retinal diseases. It will have the worldwide rights to market treatments for two indications as well as the option to license additional programs in inherited retinal disease. 

Under the deal, the partners will work together on gene therapies for achromatopsia caused by mutations in either CNGB3 or CNGA3 and X-linked retinitis pigmentosa, MeiraGTx said in a statement. In addition to the $100 million cash upfront payment, Janssen will cover all development and commercialization costs, as well as royalties and a potential $340 million in milestones down the line. 

The duo will also work on MeiraGTx’s preclinical pipeline, exploring new targets for retinal diseases and further developing adeno-associated virus manufacturing technology. Janssen can option new programs that emerge from this research collaboration, at which point it will take over the costs of clinical development and commercialization. 

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"This collaboration builds on Janssen's long-standing heritage of addressing the unmet needs of patients around the world," said Mathai Mammen, M.D., Ph.D., global head of Janssen Research & Development, in a statement. "Through this collaboration, we look forward to deepening our expertise in gene therapy and leveraging our breadth of research and development expertise to help bring forward new treatment options for people living with inherited retinal diseases." 

The deal is MeiraGTx’s second with Janssen—the pair first teamed up last October to work on regulatable gene therapy based on the former’s riboswitch technology. The goal is to create treatments with an on-off switch so that they can be adjusted “according to the patients’ need and the dosing requirements of the therapy.” That partnership followed an Alzheimer’s-focused one that Janssen struck with the University of Pennsylvania in January last year.