Sanofi hands back neurology gene therapy rights to Voyager

Sanofi’s Genzyme unit has handed back rights to two neurology gene therapies to US biotech Voyager Therapeutics, as part of a rethink of the companies’ joint research.

This is the second time Sanofi has scaled back the $845m deal signed in 2015 with Voyager – the French pharma handed back rights to a lead project in Parkinson’s disease a couple of years ago.

The companies were also developing VY-HTT01 for Huntington’s disease and VY-FXN01 for Friedrich’s ataxia.

Under the terms of the restructured agreement Voyager regains worldwide rights to VY-HTT01 and ex-US rights to VY-FXN01.

The ex-US rights to VY-FXN01 have now been transferred to Neurocrine Biosciences under a separate collaboration agreement announced in January this year.

Sanofi Genzyme has taken exclusive option rights to select novel adeno-associated virus (AAV) capsids owned or controlled by Voyager for exclusive use for up to two non-central nervous system indications.

Voyager has agreed to make a $10 million upfront payment to Sanofi Genzyme to regain the rights.

This upfront payment is partially offset by a $5 million payment from Neurocrine Biosciences to Voyager in return for the ex-US rights to VY-FXN01.

An additional $10 million milestone payment is due to Sanofi Genzyme from Voyager upon filing of an investigational new drug (IND) application for VY-HTT01 or, if applicable, certain backup compounds for the treatment of Huntington’s disease.

Preclinical studies are underway with VY-HTT01 which, if successful, are expected to support a potential filing of an IND application in late 2019.

Now that it is focusing on the Huntington’s disease therapy, Voyager is looking for a partner for its preclinical programme aimed at a subgroup of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis with a mutant SOD1 gene.

Voyager has scrapped plans to begin clinical trials of the therapy that has arisen from the research this year, called VY-SOD102.

The companies have agreed to terminate Sanofi Genzyme’s option rights and joint efforts under a 2015 collaboration agreement.

They have amended and restated a separate agreement focused on the discovery and development of novel AAV capsids to be developed and marketed by Sanofi Genzyme.

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