Pfizer takes stake in gene therapy company Vivet Therapeutics, gains purchase option

Pfizer acquired a 15-percent equity stake in Vivet Therapeutics, as well as an exclusive option to purchase the gene therapy company for 560 million euros ($636 million), the latter drugmaker said Wednesday. Mikael Dolsten, president of worldwide research, development and medical at Pfizer, noted that the partnership "offers an important expansion of Pfizer's commitment to collaborate with the scientific community and to accelerate our leading AAV-directed gene therapy portfolio."  

Under the agreed terms, Pfizer paid around 45 million euros ($51 million) on signing the deal, with the companies set to collaborate on the development of Vivet's experimental gene therapy VTX-801 for Wilson disease. VTX-801 was granted orphan drug designation by the FDA and European Commission in 2017, while clinical studies are slated to start next year. As part of the agreement, Pfizer can exercise its option to acquire Vivet following the company's delivery of certain data from a Phase I/II trial for VTX-801.  

In addition, under the agreement, Pfizer's vice president of worldwide business development Monika Vnuk will join Vivet's board of directors. Vivet is also developing liver-directed gene therapy programmes for progressive familial intrahepatic cholestasis for bile excretion defects and citrullinaemia for defects in the urea cycle.

Pfizer's deal with Vivet deepens its pipeline of gene therapies, having previously entered into partnerships with Sangamo Therapeutics and Spark Therapeutics. Meanwhile, there have already been a number of gene therapy deals inked this year, with Spark Therapeutics agreeing to be purchased by Roche for about $4.3 billion and Biogen reaching an agreement to buy Nightstar Therapeutics for approximately $800 million.

For related analysis, see ViewPoints: Roche pivots into gene therapy, and ViewPoints: If you can’t build it, buy it – Biogen looks elsewhere to augment gene therapy effort.

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