Astellas buys gene therapy company for $3bn


Astellas has announced it will be acquiring gene therapy specialists Audentes Therapeutics for a total equity value of approximately $3 billion, adding a new focus area to its drug discovery efforts.

The deal gives Astellas access to Audentes’ AT132, in development for the treatment of X-Linked Myotubular Myopathy (XLMTM) – a serious, life-threatening, rare neuromuscular disease that is characterised by extreme muscle weakness, respiratory failure and early death – as well as other genetic medicines for rare neuromuscular diseases.

“Recent scientific and technological advances in genetic medicine have advanced the potential to deliver unprecedented and sustained value to patients, and even to cure diseases with a single intervention,” said Kenji Yasukawa, president and CEO of Astellas. “Audentes has developed a robust pipeline of promising product candidates which are complementary to our existing pipeline, including its lead program AT132. By joining together with Audentes’ talented team, we are establishing a leading position in the field of gene therapy with the goal of addressing the unmet needs of patients living with serious, rare diseases.”

In a statement Astellas also said the deal “creates the opportunity for additional gene therapy partnerships and pipeline expansion through leveraging Audentes’ manufacturing capabilities and its valued relationships with patient groups, academic collaborators and scientific advisors.”

The company also hopes the acquisition will be a key step in the expansion of its ‘Focus Area’ approach, under which Astellas wants to prioritise creating innovative medicines for diseases with high unmet medical needs by identifying unique combinations of biology and therapeutic modality/technology based on emerging science. 

With the acquisition, Astellas is adding a fifth Primary Focus in Genetic Regulation to existing categories of oncology, immune diseases, ophthalmology and muscle diseases – under which, it says, gene therapy will be a “key driver of the company’s future growth”.

Under the agreement, which has been unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both Astellas and Audentes, Astellas will acquire Audentes for a price of $60.00 per share in cash.