Voyager Therapeutics Announces License Agreement with Novartis Worth Up to $1.75 Billion

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Novartis will pay Voyager up to $1.75 billion for access to Voyager’s novel Tracer AAV capsids for potential use with three CNS targets.

Voyager Therapeutics, a gene therapy company, announced on March 8, 2022 that it had entered into a licensing agreement with Novartis, under which Novartis will license Voyager’s TRACER adeno-associated virus (AAV) capsids for potential use with three central nervous system (CNS) targets. Novartis will also have the future option to access the capsids for two additional targets.

Under agreement, Novartis will pay Voyager $54 million upfront for access to TRACER. Additional payments totaling up to $1.7 billion are contingent on Novartis exercising potential options and the drug targets reaching various development, regulatory, and commercial milestones.

According to a company press release, an initial set of proprietary AAV capsids derived from the TRACER platform demonstrated:

  • Superior blood–brain barrier penetration
  • Increased transduction in the brain and spinal cord
  • Enhanced cardiac muscle tropism
  • Increased transgene expression in target tissues compared to conventional AAV capsids when dosed intravenously in non-human primates.

“Overcoming the substantial toxicity risk frequently observed with high doses of AAV-based gene therapies remains a critical challenge to realizing the full, curative potential of this breakthrough modality,” said Glenn Pierce, interim chief scientific officer, Voyager, in a company press release. “Voyager’s growing and maturing library of proprietary TRACER-derived capsids have demonstrated markedly enhanced expression in non-human primates with more precise targeting of desired tissue and cell types, creating the potential for superior delivery and fewer off-target risks than conventional AAV.”

“This transaction further validates the potential of the Voyager TRACER capsid discovery platform to broadly enable a next generation of AAV gene therapies,” said Allen Nunnally, chief business officer, Voyager, in the press release. “Our collaboration with Novartis expands the array of therapeutic programs in which our proprietary capsids may be deployed and highlights the potential of our TRACER platform to generate future business development opportunities as our novel capsid library expands and initial TRACER-derived capsids are further refined to enhance desirable characteristics.”

Source: Voyager