Biogen Inc. (NASDAQ: BIIB) announced on Monday that it has entered into an agreement to acquire Nightstar Therapeutics (NASDAQ: NITE) for an all cash offer of USD 800 Million. Biogen expects to accelerate its gene therapy development with the acquisition.
Nightstar is a clinical-stage gene therapy company based in London, United Kingdom, which is focused on adeno-associated virus (AAV) treatments for inherited retinal disorders. Nightstar shares surged by 66% shortly after the opening bell on Monday.
“Ophthalmology is an emerging growth area for Biogen, and we are excited about the opportunity to work with the talented employees at Nightstar to advance potentially transformative gene therapy programs for rare retinal diseases,” said Michel Vounatsos, Biogen’s Chief Executive Officer. “With this proposed acquisition, we are continuing to bolster our pipeline and further execute on our strategy to develop and expand a multi-franchise neuroscience pipeline across complementary modalities. Nightstar would accelerate our entry into ophthalmology by contributing two mid- to late-stage gene therapy assets, with the potential to create long-term shareholder value.”
Nightstar’s lead asset is its NSR-REP1 for the treatment of choroideremia (CHM), a rare, degenerative, X-linked inherited retinal disorder, which leads to blindness. CHM primarily affects males and is caused by the loss of function in the CHM gene. Currently, there is no approved treatments.
Nightstar also has a second clinical program, NSR-RPGR, which is a treatment for X-linked retinitis pigmentosa (XLRP), which is also a rare inherited retinal disease affecting males.
NSR-RPGR is comprised of an AAV vector administered by subretinal injection which provided a functioning RPGR gene and thus expression of the RPGR protein, which is critical for protein transport in photoreceptors.
Under the terms of the agreement, Biogen expects to fund the acquisition through available cash. Biogen expects the acquisition to be completed by mid-year 2019.