2022-10-05| Licensing

Pfizer Opts In On Neurological Target In Voyager Deal, Leaving $290 Million In Milestones

by Joy Lin
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A year after announcing a $600 million biobucks deal with AAV capsid developer Voyager Therapeutics, Pfizer has exercised its option to license a capsid developed on Voyager’s TRACER platform that will become part of gene therapy against an undisclosed rare neurological disease target. 

The option exercise triggers a $10 million payment to Voyager and opens the door for up to $290 million in milestones. 

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Option Exercise For One Of Two Targets

“Pfizer’s decision to exercise this option reflects the significant research progress our scientific teams have made and further validates the potential of our TRACER platform to help enable gene therapy for neurological diseases,” said Voyager CEO Alfred Sandrock, Jr., M.D., Ph.D.. 

“Collaborations, such as this Pfizer partnership, are a pillar of our two-pronged strategy to leverage our next-generation capsids both to help enable our partners’ gene therapy programs and to advance Voyager’s internal pipeline of highly differentiated candidates for GBA1 Parkinson’s disease, SOD1 ALS, and other neurological diseases,” he said.

As for the remaining $300 million promised under the original deal, Pfizer has decided not to license a capsid for the cardiac target and will return all rights to that target to Voyager. The neurological target under agreement with Pfizer is distinct from those used in Voyager’s internal pipeline programs.

Focus On Capsids In Deals

Voyager claims its capsids — the protein shells of a virus — have superior brain penetration compared to traditional AAVs, as well as enhanced cardiac muscle tropism and transgene expression in target tissues. 

Capsids are also at the center of Voyager’s updated partnership with Sanofi. After ditching an $845 million deal with Voyager concerning two gene therapy programs for Huntington’s disease and Friedreich’s ataxia, Sanofi restructured its agreement with Voyager to obtain option rights to select AAV capsids for two non-central nervous system (non-CNS) indications. 


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