Roche in $4.3bn deal to buy gene therapy company Spark Therapeutics

Roche acquisition of Spark Therapeutics : Swiss pharma giant Roche has signed an all-cash deal worth $4.3 billion to acquire US gene therapy company Spark Therapeutics, as per the latest pharma acquisition news.

Roche acquisition of Spark Therapeutics

According to the merger terms, Roche will offer to buy 100% of Spark Therapeutics for $ 114.50 per share.

Spark Therapeutics, which was established in 2013, is focused on discovery, development and delivery of gene therapies that address various genetic disorders like blindness, neurodegenerative diseases, haemophilia, and lysosomal storage disorders.

The company’s gene therapy Luxturna (voretigene neparvovec) got US FDA approval in December 2017 as a treatment for biallelic RPE65 mutation-associated retinal dystrophy in both children and adults.

Luxturna was the first gene therapy to get FDA approval for a genetic disease. Read more about Luxturna FDA approval here.

Within a year after its FDA approval, Luxturna was approved by the European Commission with the adeno-associated viral (AAV) vector gene therapy given the nod for RPE65 mutation-associated retinal dystrophy as well, which is a rare form of vision loss inherited through genes that could result in blindness.

Roche acquisition of Spark Therapeutics
Roche acquisition of Spark Therapeutics. Photo courtesy of Spark Therapeutics, Inc.

Jeffrey D. Marrazzo – CEO of Spark Therapeutics, commenting on Roche acquisition of Spark Therapeutics, said: “As the only biotechnology company that has successfully commercialized a gene therapy for a genetic disease in the U.S., we have built unmatched competencies in the discovery, development and delivery of genetic medicines. But the needs of patients and families living with genetic diseases are immediate and vast.

“With its worldwide reach and extensive resources, Roche will help us accelerate the development of more gene therapies for more patients for more diseases and further expedite our vision of a world where no life is limited by genetic disease.”

Apart from Luxturna, Spark Therapeutics is developing SPK-8011, its leading clinical asset which is presently being developed as a gene therapy for haemophilia A. SPK-8011 is slated to enter into a phase 3 clinical trial in 2019.

Another gene therapy of the company, which is under development, is SPK-8016, which is being studied in a phase 1/2 clinical trial in the haemophilia A inhibitor patient population.

Other gene therapies in the pipeline of Spark Therapeutics are SPK-9001, an investigational gene therapy for haemophilia B, which is under phase 3 development, and SPK-7001 for the treatment of choroideremia, which is in a phase 1/2 clinical trial.

In addition to that, the company is developing SPK-3006 for Pompe disease and SPK-1001 for the treatment of CLN2 disease, which is a form of Batten disease.

The two investigational gene therapies are expected to be brought into clinical development stage this year and will also undergo further preclinical programs for Stargardt disease and Huntington’s disease.

Commenting on Roche acquisition of Spark Therapeutics, Severin Schwan – CEO of Roche, said: “Spark Therapeutics’ proven expertise in the entire gene therapy value chain may offer important new opportunities for the treatment of serious diseases.

“In particular, Spark’s hemophilia A program could become a new therapeutic option for people living with this disease. We are also excited to continue the investments in Spark’s broad product portfolio and commitment to Philadelphia as a center of excellence.”

Roche acquisition of Spark Therapeutics, which will be based on the meeting of certain customary conditions, is likely to be wrapped up in Q2 2019. Post-merger, Spark Therapeutics will continue to operate based in Philadelphia as an independent company under the Roche Group.

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