In exchange for its investment in MeiraGTx, Sanofi will have the right of first negotiation to use the biotech’s Riboswitch gene regulation technology to develop therapies against disease targets in immunology and the central nervous system, and for GLP-1 and other gut peptides in metabolic disease therapies.
Sanofi also has the first option to jump on MeiraGTx’s ongoing phase 2-stage gene therapy for the treatment of radiation-induced dry mouth, also known as xerostomia.
Nasdaq-listed MeiraGTx is developing a range of therapies that deliver a gene encoding a therapeutic protein to correct disease-causing mutations. The firm’s lead program is a gene therapy designed to treat the most common form of the ocular condition X-linked retinitis pigmentosa, and is currently in a phase 1/2 trial in collaboration with Janssen.
MeiraGTx’s preclinical-stage Riboswitch technology is designed to enhance the potential of gene therapies by making them more controllable and inducible than current therapies. The technology allows the company to use a small molecule drug to switch on and off the production of the therapeutic gene, potentially limiting its expression in healthy tissues.
Sanofi’s investment came in exchange for 4 million shares in MeiraGTx at a price of $7.50 per share. MeiraGTx’s Nasdaq stock price before the announcement was $3.70 and has since risen by 20%, sitting at around $4.40.
MeiraGTx’s president and chief executive officer Alexandria Forbes explained in a public release that MeiraGTx has received strategic interest from multiple undisclosed parties over the past several months. As a result, the company has enlisted legal advisor Evercore and Wachtell Lipton to help to bring at least one of the potential transactions to fruition.
“We view Sanofi’s interest in our Riboswitch gene regulation technology and our clinical xerostomia program as further validation of the broad potential of our vertically integrated platform and we are excited to work with Sanofi as we advance these programs,” stated Forbes.
“Our mission at Sanofi is to deliver first or best in class medicines and vaccines for patients. So, we welcome technological innovations that help us chase the scientific miracles of the future,” added Sanofi’s CEO Paul Hudson. "We believe that MeiraGTx’s Riboswitch platform, supported by its unique manufacturing capabilities, is such a technology.”
As of the end of June 2023, MeiraGTx is sitting on cash and cash equivalents of approximately $92.8 million in addition to $32.7 million due from its collaborations with Janssen. The company expects to have a cash runway until the second quarter of 2025.
Another notable gene therapy deal struck this month saw Spark Therapeutics tapping into gene therapy technology from the Spanish company SpliceBio to treat an inherited retinal disease.