Pfizer doubles down on gene therapy, pays up to $700M for Bamboo

DNA

Pfizer ($PFE) aims to become a major gene therapy player with its latest acquisition of Bamboo Therapeutics. It first entered the field via a 2014 deal with Spark Therapeutics in hemophilia; at that time, the pharma also established a dedicated gene therapy research center in London known as the Genetic Medicines Institute that’s part of its Rare Disease Research Unit.

In the Bamboo buy, Pfizer had already purchased about 22% of the company during the first quarter for about $43 million. It has now purchased the remaining company for an upfront of $150 million. Bamboo investors stand to receive up to an additional $495 million in development, regulatory and commercial milestones.

With this deal, Pfizer adds advanced recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV)-based gene therapies that it expects will complement its existing rare disease and gene therapy portfolios.

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These include a preclinical neuromuscular candidate for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), a rare disease that has seen a number of recent clinical disappointments, as well as preclinical candidates to treat Friedreich’s ataxia and Canavan disease and a Phase I candidate for giant axonal neuropathy.

“The field of gene therapy research has made tremendous strides in recent years, and we are pleased to be able to further enhance our leadership position in this area through this transaction with Bamboo,” said Pfizer President of Worldwide R&D Dr. Mikael Dolsten in a statement.

Pfizer isn’t done yet on the gene therapy dealmaking front. Continued Dolsten, “We believe that gene therapy may hold the promise of bringing true disease modification for patients suffering from devastating diseases, and we hope to see this promise come to fruition--through new and existing in-house capabilities and potential partnership opportunities--in the years to come.”

In addition to the Bamboo pipeline, Pfizer gains an operating gene therapy manufacturing facility that Bamboo bought from the University of North Carolina earlier this year. It’s producing candidates for use in Phase I/II testing.

The pharma also has several academic research agreements, including one with King’s College London to develop a series of rAAV gene therapy vectors and another with the University of Iowa Research Foundation to develop a potential gene therapy for cystic fibrosis.

Pfizer has also partnered with Emeryville, CA-based Molecular Therapeutics (4DMT) to discover and develop targeted next-generation rAAV vectors for cardiac disease; it made an investment in the company last fall.

- here is the release

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