The deal sees Astellas, a Japanese drugmaker, agree to pay $3bn (€2.7bn) to acquire Audentes Therapeutics, in its latest efforts to expand its pipeline through deals.
Audentes lead drug candidate is AT132, a gene therapy for the treatment of X-linked myotubular myopathy. The potential treatment is currently going through a Phase 1/2 clinical trial.
The condition it aims to treat is a rare neuromuscular disease with mortality rates estimated to be 50% in the first 18 months of life, which affects approximately one in 40,000 to 50,000 newborn males.
However, Audentes also has a further five preclinical candidates across various indications, including Pompe disease and Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
In addition, Astellas called attention to Audentes’ in-house adeno associated virus (AAV) gene therapy technology platform and large-scale current good manufacturing practice (cGMP) manufacturing as another strategic factor in making the acquisition.
According to Astellas, these capabilities should create the opportunity “for additional gene therapy partnerships and pipeline expansions.”
Audentes possessing its own manufacturing capabilities is a differentiator in the gene therapy market, with capacity for the development of cell and gene therapies particularly constrained.
Bringing onboard a specialized gene therapy company also means that Astellas will now broaden its primary focus areas to include ‘genetic regulation’.
Previously, Astellas has broadened its pipeline of products through the acquisition of various advanced therapeutic assets.
In October of this year, the company agreed to fund two biotech incubators to develop biotechs working in the cell and gene therapy space.
Prior to this, the company had made a $109m deal last year to add Quethera and its gene therapy pipeline for ophthalmic conditions.
Astellas noted that it expects the latest deal to conclude by the end of the current financial year.