Regeneron beefed up its gene therapy capabilities Wednesday, signing a new deal with the German biotech ViGeneron.
The similarly named — but unrelated — companies announced the collaboration early Wednesday morning, one which would see ViGeneron receive undisclosed upfront and milestone payments in exchange for Regeneron getting access to its suite of recombinant adeno-associated virus vectors.
They aren’t specifying their target just yet, but noted it will be some inherited retinal disease. It’s an area where Regeneron has a lot of expertise, given one of its best-selling products, Eylea, is approved to treat three eye disorders: age-related macular degeneration, macular edema and diabetic retinopathy.
Regeneron is not particularly known for its gene therapy efforts, but it hasn’t shied away from signing such pacts. The big biotech partnered with Intellia back in 2016 to develop up to 10 CRISPR/Cas-based therapeutics and promised $125 million in cash and equity in addition to undisclosed milestones.
Then, in 2020, Regeneron and Intellia expanded their deal to include treatments for hemophilia A and hemophilia B, with Intellia receiving another $100 million in cash and equity payments. The revisions also allowed for five more gene therapy programs to come under development, all of which are being targeted at the liver.
Regeneron has also previously partnered with the now-struggling bluebird bio on its lentiviral cell and gene therapies, aiming to build some new cancer programs. Those deals followed an even earlier gene therapy pact with Avalanche Biotechnologies, which Regeneron signed in 2014. Regeneron further teamed up with gene therapy pioneer Jim Wilson to fight Covid-19 in 2020.
For ViGeneron, the move comes after it signed a deal with Biogen in January 2021, one that is also targeting inherited eye diseases. Though Biogen had largely been focused on the controversial aducanumab around this time, it was also placing a few measured bets on ophthalmology — its $800 million acquisition of Nightstar included.
Per its Wednesday press release, ViGeneron says its gene therapies can differentiate themselves because they “enable the efficient transduction of target cells via intravitreal injection that allows lateral spreading and minimizes the risk of retinal detachment caused by conventional subretinal injection.”