SpliceBio sparks up eye disease gene therapy collab with Roche unit

SpliceBio is sparking up a new $216 million alliance with Roche’s gene therapy unit to develop a new treatment for an inherited retinal disease.

Barcelona-based Splice will work with Spark Therapeutics, the gene therapy company picked up by Roche in 2019 for about $4.8 billion. The deal could bring in $216 million for Splice including an undisclosed upfront payment, opt-in and milestones plus royalties.

The companies will use Splice’s Protein Splicing platform, which aims to sidestep a common challenge in gene therapy where the necessary gene is too large to fit within traditional adeno-associated virus vectors. The Spanish biotech’s program could help find new therapies for diseases beyond the reach of existing gene therapies.

Spark is a solid partner for an upstart biotech given it managed to get the first gene therapy for a genetic disease approved back in December 2017. Luxturna was approved for an inherited form of vision loss that can result in blindness.

While Spark is now under the Roche umbrella, the company is fully integrated and continues to operate under the legacy name. Earlier this year, Spark signed a deal with Neurochase to develop gene therapies for rare central nervous system disorders. That deal also focused on delivery mechanisms.

Splice emerged in February 2022 with 50 million euros ($57 million) to tackle delivery barriers in gene therapy, backed by UCB Ventures and the Novartis Venture Fund. The company’s lead program is for the genetic eye disease Stargardt disease, which causes vision loss in children and adults.