The total number of deals in the global gene therapy market more than doubled from 16 in 2013 to 36 in 2014, with their combined value rising spectacularly from $122.8 million to $4.9 billion over the same period, representing a forty-fold increase, says research and consulting firm GlobalData.
The company’s latest report states that merger and acquisition activity is typically low in the gene therapy field, as the technology remains highly experimental and the majority of products are in early-stage clinical development.
Despite this, the impressive growth in the overall deals value for 2014 was boosted primarily by Abbott Laboratories’ $2.9 billion acquisition of CFR Pharmaceuticals (CFR), a Chilean biotechnology company developing gene therapeutics for alcoholism and chronic pain. CFR has a product in its clinic that targets aldehyde dehydrogenase, an enzyme produced in the liver and kidneys aiding alcohol rejection.
Adam Dion, MS, GlobalData’s senior industry analyst, says “Licensing and partnerships, together with capital raisings, have represented the largest number of gene therapy deals struck since 2009. Licensing deals have so far outpaced historical levels with over $1.8 billion signed in 2015.
“These deals include Bristol-Myers Squibb’s $1 billion licensing agreement with UniQure to develop S100AI, UniQure’s phase I candidate for congestive heart failure, representing the deal with the greatest financial impact so far this year. Voyager Therapeutics also signed an $845 million agreement with Genzyme to develop three phase I programmes concerning the central nervous system.”
The analyst adds that besides licensing agreements, equity offerings are a common strategy for companies to raise funds, enabling them to advance clinical pipelines and bring gene therapies to market.
Dion adds, “Nearly $1.5 billion was raised in the gene therapy arena from 2014 to 2015, of which almost $750 million resulted from Avalanche, Bluebird Bio and Spark Therapeutics going public. Furthermore, Paris-based Cellectis announced in March 2015 that it had raised $230 million in an initial public offering, which the company will use to advance its blood cancer pipeline from preclinical testing to phase I clinical trials.”
“This rise in financial investment may be indicative of renewed investor confidence, and could lead to higher-than-expected deal activity for gene therapies in the future,” the analyst concludes.