Drug Development

Pfizer boosts its gene therapy work, bags upstart Bamboo in $645M buyout deal

Bamboo Therapeutics and its nascent gene therapy pipeline is being bought out by Pfizer, just five months after the biotech raised close to $50 million. The pharma giant, already a minority investor in Bamboo, is paying $150 million upfront for the rest of the equity as it sets its sights on becoming a leader in gene therapy development. And there’s another $495 million in milestones on the table for Bamboo’s investors.

Pfizer had already paid $43 million to buy its first stake in Bamboo, bringing its total bet on the company to up to $688 million.

Pfizer is landing a top manufacturing facility for gene therapies in the deal for the UNC spinout. It’s also gaining a pipeline of gene therapies for rare neurologic diseases, including Giant axonal neuropathy (GAN, now in Phase I/II), Canavan disease, Friedreich’s ataxia and Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Jude Samulski

Jude Samulski

Gene therapy expert Jude Samulski, who headed up UNC’s Gene Therapy Center, will now join the pharma giant’s ranks.

Samulski has more than 25 years experience developing AAV vectors for gene therapies, using a benign virus to deliver genetic material for a potential once-and-done fix for defective genes that can trigger disease.

Samulski will be joining a group already noted for its chief, Michael Linden, who has been steadily ramping up work in the R&D arena. Pfizer is also working with Spark on a gene therapy for hemophilia B. And it’s collaborating with 4D Molecular Therapeutics on cardio remedies.

Gene therapies have been making a dramatic comeback in recent years. Bluebird, Spark and others have been hurrying new programs along and rolling out IPOs to help support their work. And just a few days ago BioMarin added some considerable excitement to the field with stellar data from a small trial of its hemophilia A drug.

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