Bristol-Myers Squibb is the latest pharma heavyweight to buy into gene therapy's renaissance, signing a deal with uniQure worth as much as $1 billion and getting its hands a novel cardiovascular treatment.
Under the agreement, Bristol-Myers will hand over $100 million in up-front payments, licensing fees and equity investments in exchange for the commercial rights to uniQure's lead candidate and three more potential therapies. The Holland headquartered-uniQure will handle all discovery and manufacturing in the collaboration, eligible for up to $254 million tied to top prospect S100A1 and $217 million for each of the three other assets. Bristol-Myers is on the hook for all R&D costs, promising its partner a royalty on future sales.
UniQure's lead candidate, picked up in an acquisition of Germany's InoCard last year, is a gene therapy that uses a harmless virus to deliver the calcium-binding protein S100A1, a master regulator of cardiac function. By boosting S100A1, the treatment has the potential to relieve symptoms of congestive heart failure, according to uniQure, and Bristol-Myers is betting its cardio expertise can push the program forward.