Astellas Pharma has acquired Quethera, a gene therapy company headquartered in the United Kingdom that is focused on developing novel treatments for ocular disorders, such as glaucoma.
Under the terms of the agreement, Astellas may pay up to £85 million ($108.65 million) in aggregate consideration (upfront and contingent payments) to Quethera shareholders. Upon the closing of the transaction, Quethera will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Astellas.
Through this transaction, Astellas will acquire Quethera’s ophthalmic gene therapy program, which uses a recombinant adeno-associated viral vector system (rAAV) to introduce therapeutic genes into target retinal cells for the treatment of glaucoma. The lead preclinical candidate of the program has demonstrated significantly improved survival of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) in preclinical models.
“This acquisition demonstrates Astellas’ commitment to proactively incorporate state-of-the-art scientific and technological advances and turn them into VALUE for patients,” Kenji Yasukawa, PhD, President and CEO, Astellas, said in a company news release. “We believe the rAAV program has potential as a new therapeutic option for the treatment of refractory glaucoma through an IOP-independent mechanism. It would address a high unmet medical need in glaucoma patients who are at risk of losing their eyesight.”
“Quethera’s novel technology approach is focused on exploring potential treatment options for common ophthalmic diseases, such as glaucoma, that can cause blindness and severely affect the quality of life for patients,” said Peter Widdowson, PhD, CEO, Quethera. “This deal enables us to accelerate our evaluation of this investigational technology program to see if we can slow or prevent disease progression for these patients.”
Founding investor UK Innovation and Science Seed Fund (UKI2S) backed the company with co-investment from Cambridge Enterprise in August 2015 and followed with subsequent investment.