Johnson & Johnson purchased a gene therapy for X-linked retinitis pigmentosa from MeiraGTx for $65 million upfront, the biotech announced Thursday.

The deal, which also comes with a commercial supply agreement, could be worth up to $415 million, including another $65 million in milestone payments expected in 2024 and up to $285 million upon first sales of the gene therapy in the US and EU.

J&J was already sponsoring a Phase III trial for the gene therapy candidate known as botaretigene sparoparvovec, or bota-vec for short. In 2019, J&J struck a licensing deal with MeiraGTx around three eye disease programs, including bota-vec, and paid $100 million upfront.

Earlier this year, MeiraGTx had said that it expected to file an application to the FDA in 2024 for marketing approval, but then in September transferred the program’s IND — or FDA authorization for a clinical trial — to J&J.

X-linked retinitis pigmentosa causes loss of night vision and potentially blindness, usually in men. Bota-vec is designed to treat patients with disease-causing variants of the RPGR gene, which encodes a protein crucial to normal eyesight. The gene therapy uses a viral vector called an AAV to deliver functional copies of the gene in the eye.

The bota-vec asset sale comes as part of MeiraGTx’s search for “additional strategic opportunities” — namely cash — and pushes the company’s runway to mid-2026. In October, the biotech sold shares to Sanofi for $30 million, a deal which gave Sanofi the right of first negotiation for several programs.

MeiraGTx CEO Alexandria Forbes said in a statement that the gene therapy candidate sale allows the biotech to focus on its other two late-stage clinical programs in Xerostomia, known colloquially as dry mouth, and Parkinson’s, as well as its manufacturing — and that there may be additional deals around these assets.

MeiraGTx’s stock $MGTX rose 20% to nearly $6 a share Thursday morning. J&J’s investment arm owns more than 10% of MeiraGTx’s outstanding shares, according to an SEC filing.

Source: https://endpts.com/jj-buys-eye-disease-gene-therapy-from-meiragtx/

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