Vertex lavishes $80M cash to expand gene therapy tool kit; Supernus bags a $300M CNS portfolio
→ Vertex’s bullish outlook wasn’t just manifested in its upbeat revision of the full-year guidance. Earlier this week, the Boston biotech handed over $80 million in cash to gene therapy upstart Affinia to engineer new AAV capsids to deliver a string of potential new treatments for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, myotonic dystrophy type 1 and cystic fibrosis. Affinia, which debuted to the biotech world just a month ago with AveXis veteran Rick Modi at the helm, is eligible for $1.6 billion in milestones.
Having conquered the majority of the CF market, Vertex has signaled a clear interest in making the next big move in cell and gene therapy, marked by a billion-dollar buyout of Exonics and another billion-dollar partnership with CRISPR Therapeutics. It’s since also acquired Semma, whose former CEO Bastiano Sanna is now the chief of the group at Vertex.
→ Rockville, MD-based Supernus Pharmaceuticals has agreed to hand over $300 million in cash to grab the CNS portfolio of US WorldMeds. The company is picking up three approved drugs — Apokyn, Myobloc and Xadago as well as the apomorphine infusion pump now in development for Parkinson’s. Supernus added $230 million for milestones.
→ Belgian biotech Hyloris Pharmaceuticals has raised €15 million to back its mission developing new formulations of existing drugs. “Right from the start, Hyloris’ aim has been to bring reformulated drugs with high added value to the market as quickly as possible,” noted chairman Stefan Yee. New and existing investors include Scorpiaux, Noshaq, Saffelberg Investments and Nomainvest.
→ It’s official — US intelligence has concurred that the virus behind Covid-19 was not concocted in a lab.