Astellas gains gene therapy programme for glaucoma via purchase of Quethera

Astellas announced Friday the purchase of Quethera for as much as 85 million pounds ($108 million) in upfront and contingent payments, gaining the latter's ophthalmic gene therapy programme, which utilises a recombinant adeno-associated viral vector (rAAV) system to introduce genes into retinal cells for the treatment of glaucoma. Astellas CEO Kenji Yasukawa stated "this acquisition demonstrates Astellas' commitment to proactively incorporate state-of-the-art scientific and technological advances and turn them into value for patients."  

Astellas said Quethera's lead candidate has significantly improved the survival of retinal ganglion cells in preclinical models. Yasukawa added "we believe the rAAV programme has potential as a new therapeutic option for the treatment of refractory glaucoma through an intraocular pressure-independent mechanism."

Astellas noted that Quethera has become a wholly owned subsidiary following completion of the deal. The purchase comes after Astellas disclosed in April that it planned to spend 200 billion yen ($1.8 billion) over the next three years on deals to diversify its portfolio. Earlier this year, the Japanese drugmaker completed the acquisitions of Universal Cells and Mitobridge.

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