Biogen announced Monday that it partnered with the University of Pennsylvania under a deal potentially worth up to $2 billion to advance gene therapy and gene editing technologies. The alliance will primarily focus on the development of therapeutic approaches that target the eye, skeletal muscle and central nervous system. Biogen is also entering into a licencing agreement with Regenxbio for the exclusive rights to use adeno-associated virus serotype 8 (AAV8) or 9 (AAV9) technologies in ophthalmic collaboration programmes with the University of Pennsylvania.
Under the agreement with the University of Pennsylvania, Biogen will make an upfront payment of $20 million and provide an additional $62.5 million to cover R&D costs over the next three to five years for seven distinct preclinical R&D programmes conducted by the Wilson and Bennett laboratories. Meanwhile, each programme can trigger milestones valued at $77.5 million to $137.5 million per product in addition to royalties on net sales. Biogen will also be granted an option to licence next-generation AAV vectors for certain indications outside the collaboration.
"We are committed to advancing gene therapy, and our collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania has significantly strengthened both our leadership and overall capabilities in the field," stated Olivier Danos, senior vice president of cell & gene therapy at Biogen", adding "joining forces with gene therapy pioneers, James Wilson and Jean Bennett, further enables Biogen to approach the technology from a powerful perspective." Danos continued "by exploring next-generation delivery in various tissues such as the retina, skeletal muscle and CNS, we will explore the potential for extending gene therapy beyond disorders linked to single gene mutations and into a broader spectrum of complex diseases, including devastating neurological conditions that affect a multitude of patients throughout the world."
Additionally, in the agreement with Regenxbio, Biogen will pay the company an undisclosed upfront payment in addition to ongoing fees, milestone payments and royalties on net sales of products based on the licenced technology. "This license agreement provides new validation of the potential of our NAV Technology Platform in ocular indications and is an important step in advancing NAV-based gene therapies to people suffering from rare genetic vision disorders," explained Regenxbio CEO Kenneth Mills, adding "we are pleased that Biogen…has selected our NAV technology platform for the development of innovative gene therapies to improve treatment options in areas of significant unmet need."
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