Plugging in the last piece to its gene therapy puzzle, AskBio acquires Scottish synthetic promoter company
AskBio is putting some of their recent $235 million raise to use, adding another key piece to its expansive gene therapy toolkit with the acquisition of Edinburgh, Scotland-based Synpromics.
To be operated as a wholly-owned subsidiary at arms’-length — in fact, all the way across the Atlantic from AskBio’s home base in Research Triangle Park, NC — Synpromics brings a gene control synthetic promoter technology to the table. These are DNA sequences that play a crucial role in the transcription of genes, specifically those that drug developers want to regulate in the context of cell and gene therapy.
“For some time, the field has understood that the three essential components for advancing successful AAV gene therapy has centered around production, capsids and promoters. Today AskBio has added the last critical component to our tool chest,” Jude Samulski, a co-founder and University of North Carolina Gene Therapy Center director, said.
Having supplied the vector technology that went into AveXis’ pioneering SMA gene therapy (now belonging to Novartis) and sold spinout Bamboo Therapeutics to Pfizer, Samulski and CEO Sheila Mikhail now wants to become its own “generational company” seeing a pipeline of gene therapies for rare disease through to the market. The promise is that their cell line manufacturing process and extensive AAV capsid library will prove competitive in a field that’s seen the rise of specialized players and attracted the attention of Big Pharma BD groups.
The lead products, for Pompe and Parkinson’s respectively, are in Phase I/II.
“Integrating our inducible promoter systems into the AskBio platform will enable precision control in the next generation of therapies,” added Michael Roberts, founder and CSO of Synpromics, added.
He will remain in his role alongside CEO David Venables. While financial details were not disclosed, Calculus Capital said the return on its £5.6 million investment “significantly exceeds target returns.”