Takeda takes a cautious step into neurological gene therapy, inking preclinical deal with StrideBio
Saddled with debt and keen to divest non-core business amid the ongoing integration of Shire, Takeda has nevertheless dished out a small sum to beef up its neuroscience research capacities, enlisting Durham, NC-based StrideBio to get started on some preclinical gene therapy candidates.
At $30 million upfront and just over $700 million in total deal value, this doesn’t qualify as a major deal at a time many top pharma companies are aggressively buying into the popping gene therapy space. But for Takeda — one of the biggest R&D spenders globally — it’s a way of signalling that it’s still very much active around the neurosciences deal table, seeking fresh assets to feed into its pipeline.
“Our collaboration is a natural extension of Takeda’s neuroscience research and development strategy, including modality diversification, identifying targets with a high degree of association with disease, and a focus on developing innovative medicines for neurologic diseases that have a high unmet medical need,” said Emiliangelo Ratti, Takeda’s head of neuroscience therapeutic area unit.
The pact will cover three targets, only one of which is disclosed: Friedreich’s Ataxia (FA). StrideBio is leveraging its expertise in adeno-associated viral (AAV) capsid development to generate some leads that Takeda can then take into clinical development and, ideally, commercialization. The smaller partner is also tasked with manufacturing these candidates.
Takeda first got involved with the biotech in 2018, when its corporate venture arm participated in a Series A.
One of the last of the major players in the neurosciences field, Takeda has signed on as a big partner with the ex-Genentech crew at Denali working on Alzheimer’s — just before writing off an attempt to see if their diabetes drug Actos could help patients. They followed it up 2018 with a rich neurosciences deal for Wave Life Sciences.
On the gene therapy front Takeda has stayed somewhat reserved, having only picked up a couple from broader deals with Ambys (liver disease) and Shire (hemophilia A).