Novartis and Biogen exit deals with Sangamo

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/Olivier Le Moal
© GettyImages/Olivier Le Moal

Related tags Sangamo Therapeutics Novartis Biogen

Both Novartis and Biogen have terminated partnerships with Sangamo Therapeutics in the past week.

Novartis notified Sangamo on March 13 of its decision to end their collaboration and license agreement, initiated in July 2020, which saw both parties engage in programs​ to research gene regulation therapies to treat three neurodevelopment disorders such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and intellectual disability.

The notification was revealed in an SEC filing​.

Sangamo is focused on genome regulation technology to upregulate the expression of key genes involved in neurodevelopmental disorders. According to the biotech, its zinc-finger technology allows for the ‘correcting of mistakes’ in the DNA of patients.

Novartis indicated to the US firm that the move to walk away from their partnership relates to a recent strategic review.

Sangamo said it will investigate alternative options to advance the neurodevelopmental disorder programs under that deal including potential development internally or with an external partner, dependent on “the outcome of a broader strategic review of its pre-clinical pipeline of therapies to treat patients suffering from central nervous system (CNS) disorders.”

Under the collaboration agreement, Novartis paid $75m upfront to Sangamo. Beyond that, the Swiss group agreed to pay up to an additional $720m in developmental milestones to the California based company, with it holding the exclusive rights to zinc finger protein transcription factors (ZFP-TFs) targeting three genes focused on neurodevelopmental disorders.

The three-year collaboration period was scheduled to expire in July this year, in conjunction with Sangamo’s planned delivery of ZFP-TFs for each of the three programs to Novartis.

Sangamo said it has performed early research activities for each gene target and manufactured the ZPF-TFs required for such research, the costs of which, it said, have been fully reimbursed by Novartis.

Biogen exit

In that same SEC filing Sangamo also reported another discontinued alliance, with Biogen informing the biotech that it was terminating their partnership as well.

The two entities signed a deal in February 2020​ related to programs to research and develop gene regulation therapies to treat neurological diseases. Again, Biogen signaled to its US partner that the termination relates to a recent strategic review.

The genomic medicine company said it will also purse potential alternative options to advance the neurological disease programs that were subject to the tie-up with Biogen.

Under that deal, Sangamo granted Biogen an exclusive license to develop, manufacture and commercialize certain zinc finger protein (ZFP) and/or AAV-based products directed to up to 12 neurological disease gene targets selected by Biogen.

Biogen selected four of these: Sangamo’s ST-501 product candidate to treat tauopathies, its ST-502 product candidate to treat synucleinopathies including Parkinson’s disease, a third product candidate targeting Type 1 Myotonic Dystrophy (DM1), a neuromuscular disease, and a fourth undisclosed neurological disease gene target.

Biogen paid Sangamo $125m upfront with the genomic medicine pioneer then eligible to earn up to $2.37bn in milestone payments, assuming selection by Biogen of all 12 collaboration targets.

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