Avalanche to Expand Gene Therapy Holdings by Acquiring Annapurna

Margarida Azevedo, MSc avatar

by Margarida Azevedo, MSc |

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Avalanche Biotechnologies, Inc., announced that it has entered into a “definitive agreement” to acquire the French company Annapurna Therapeutics SAS. The merger, expected to close by mid-2016, has been approved by the boards of directors of both companies but is subject to approval by Avalanche stockholders.

Under the agreement’s terms, Avalanche will acquire the totality of Annapurna’s outstanding shares in exchange for about 17.6 million newly issued shares of Avalanche common stock.

“This transaction creates the opportunity to build a leading gene therapy company with an extensive pipeline and significant scientific, financial and human resources,” Paul B. Cleveland, Avalanche’s president and CEO, said in a press release. “I have tremendous respect for Annapurna’s commitment to high level research and development and we are looking forward to working together to drive our combined current programs forward.”

Avalanche Biotechnologies, based in Menlo Park, California, is a gene therapy company focused on the treatment of chronic or debilitating diseases, including Friedreich’s ataxia. Currently, the company is working to develop new product candidates leveraging its next-generation adeno-associated virus (AAV)-based directed evolution platform. Annapurna Therapeutics SAS, based in Paris, is a privately held company focused on gene therapies for unmet medical needs.

The merged company’s pipeline will include Avalanche’s four new gene therapy-based programs focus on cardiomyopathy associated with Friedreich’s ataxia, severe allergies, hereditary angioedema, and Alpha1-antitrypsin (A1AT) deficiency, as well as its existing ophthalmic programs. The combined company will be headquartered at Menlo Park, and Avalanche’s cash holdings — estimated by the company to be about $258 million — will support its programs for at least the initial three years.

Cleveland will be CEO of the merged company, and Amber Salzman, president and CEO of Annapurna, will serve as president and COO.

“Our businesses are highly complementary, and this transaction enables us to combine the best assets of both companies as we drive toward the development of new gene therapies in multiple disease areas, including rare diseases,” Salzman said. “This transaction provides the capabilities required to bring promising treatments to clinical practice.”