Biogen dives deeper into Alzheimer’s with $350m deal

By Ben Hargreaves

- Last updated on GMT

(Image: Getty/Jackie Niam)
(Image: Getty/Jackie Niam)

Related tags Sangamo Therapeutics Biogen Alzheimer's disease

Biogen signs a partnership agreement with Sangamo for the use of zinc-finger technology to progress various neurological disease candidates.

As Biogen prepares its potential treatment​ for Alzheimer’s disease for regulatory action, the company displays its commitment to the neurological disease area with a preclinical deal for a number of assets with Sangamo Therapeutics.

The deal will see Biogen pay Sangamo $350m (€313m) upfront, which is comprised of a $125m payment and $225m in Biogen purchasing 24 million shares in the genomic medicine company.

Further than this, dependent upon various milestones, Biogen could issue a further $2.37bn based upon milestones met.

Sangamo provided details on the three immediate programs the two partners would collaborate on: ST-501 for tauopathies, including Alzheimer’s disease, ST-502 for synucleinopathies, including Parkinson’s disease, and a further undisclosed candidate for an unspecified neuromuscular disease.

The deal also includes the option for the two companies to work together on an additional nine targets for neurological disease.

According to Sangamo, zinc-finger technology allows for the ‘correcting of mistakes’ in the DNA of patients.

In terms of the structure of the agreement, Sangamo will be responsible for the manufacturing activities up to the initial clinical trials for the first three products, for which it will utilize its in-house capabilities. After this initial clinical trial step, Biogen will take over responsibility for manufacture.

As a result, Sung Lee, CFO of Sangamo, noted in an investor call that operating expenses will rise to be within the $245m-260m range due to the cost of manufacture and investment in capacity, as well as general cost of progressing clinical programs.

The next step for the company, according to Stephane Boissel, EVP of corporate strategy, is to conduct investigational new drug (IND) enabling studies for its tau-targeting and synuclein programs.

Beyond existing programs, Boissel added on the additional nine candidates that “the deal is structured in a way that we are, at Sangamo, strongly incentivized to bring those packages as rapidly as possible to Biogen.”

The conclusion of the deal sees an additional vote on confidence in Sangamo’s technology, after Pfizer jumped on board in 2017​ to progress a hemophilia A gene therapy.

Sandy Macrae, CEO of Sangamo, stated that the company, at the same time as the Biogen deal, had ‘become a Phase III company’, as a result of Pfizer taking on the IND for SB-525 and planning a registrational Phase III trial later this year.

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