Over the weekend at ASH, Spark Therapeutics was forced to concede that investigators had tracked another immune response to its gene therapy for hemophilia B — exactly the sort of thing that the company doesn’t want to see.
Now it’s doing something about it to try and make sure it doesn’t happen again in the rest of the pipeline.
Spark $ONCE will spend $30 million in a mix of upfront and near term equity payments as it buys into Selecta Biosciences $SELB — one of the brainchildren of MIT’s Bob Langer — which has a nanoparticle platform that can be used to blunt immune responses. And the biotech will kick in up to $430 million more in milestones for every successful program they work on together.
The cash payments will work like this: Spark will initially hand over $10 million as an upfront and $5 million for an equity stake. Within a year of signing, Selecta gets another $10 million for equity and $5 million in cash. The $430 million in milestones per program is broken out into $65 million for development goals and $365 million in commercial payouts.
The pact does not involve Spark Therapeutics’ ongoing Phase 1/2 trial of SPK-9001 in hemophilia B in collaboration with Pfizer or its planned Phase 1/2 trial of SPK-8011 in hemophilia A.
In addition to preventing an initial immune response, Spark is looking for a way to allow for multiple dosings, if needed.
“Gene therapy is a core area of focus for Selecta; one that we believe could benefit profoundly from our immune tolerance SVP technology platform,” said Werner Cautreels, PhD, president, CEO and chairman of Selecta. “Our preclinical studies in this field, together with the clinical data we have generated with SEL-212 in gout showing prevention of anti-drug antibodies, suggest that the application of our immune tolerance SVP technology to biologic therapies may greatly benefit patients with life-threatening diseases who currently lack adequate treatment options due to the occurrence of undesired immune responses.”
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