Pfizer recently acquired the biotech Bamboo Therapeutics which develops therapies for potential treatment of patients with neuromuscular and central nervous system (CNS) rare diseases – like Friedreich’s ataxia (FA).
The purchase is expected to expand Pfizer’s portfolio in gene therapy by including the advanced recombinant Adeno-Associated Virus (rAAV) vector design and production technology; and a fully staffed 11,000-square-foot Phase 1/2 gene therapy manufacturing facility that Bamboo acquired earlier this year from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
“We believe Bamboo’s industry leading capabilities in rAAV vector design and manufacturing complement Pfizer’s rare disease strategy and help advance Pfizer’s mission to deliver life-changing innovation to patients with the greatest needs,” Gregory LaRosa, Pfizer’s chief scientific officer of Rare Disease Research Unit, said in a press release statement. “Bringing together Pfizer and Bamboo colleagues’ deep scientific understanding of both rAAV biology and complex biologic manufacturing will help position us for success in this area.”
Though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet approved any gene therapy products, the approach is emerging as a promising new area of medical research to develop highly specific, one-time transformative treatments that target diseases caused by genetic mutations. The investigational technology allows the introduction of a corrected copy of a gene into a patient’s body to compensate for the defective one. The delivery process can come in different ways, including viral vectors such as rAAVs.
“The field of gene therapy research has made tremendous strides in recent years, and we are pleased to be able to further enhance our leadership position in this area through this transaction with Bamboo,” Mikael Dolsten, Pfizer’s president of research and development worldwide, said. “We believe that gene therapy may hold the promise of bringing true disease modification for patients suffering from devastating diseases, and we hope to see this promise come to fruition – through new and existing in-house capabilities and potential partnership opportunities – in the years to come.”
Pfizer already paid nearly $43 million for about 22% of Bamboo’s fully diluted equity earlier this year. Under the terms of the new transaction, Pfizer acquired the remaining equity of Bamboo for $150 million. If key objectives are met, Bamboo’s selling shareholders will be eligible for potential milestone payments of up to $495 million.