Novartis bolsters ocular gene therapy focus with US$280 Vedere Bio buyout.

The Swiss pharma giant, already a major player in gene therapy snaps up US start-up, Vedere Bio in a $280 million deal as it builds up a position in inherited eye diseases.

Having already acquired AveXis (later renamed Novartis Gene Therapies) in 2018 for $8.7 billion as its first major move into the gene therapy market, Novartis made a move for Vedere in a deal that includes $150 million upfront along with $130 million in potential milestones. Vedere Bio, which produces optogenetic therapies to restore functional vision, was a product of the Atlas Venture incubator and was launched with a $21 million Series A financing last year.

Novartis has in recent years made its confidence in the gene therapy market quite clear with a series of moves. Firstly, its acquisition of AveXis added spinal muscular atrophy therapy Zolgensma – a success story having already raked in a US$1 billion in sales since launch last year. It also signed deals with Dyno Therapeutics and Sangamo as it made further inroads. A licensing deal with the former was for Dyno’s adeno-associated virus therapy which also focused on ocular disease while its deal with Sangamo expanded its reach into adjacent gene therapy disciplines targeting neurodevelopmental disorders like autism.