AbbVie, Capsida set sights on gene therapies for eye diseases
Published: Feb 23, 2023
By Tristan Manalac
With more than $600 million on the line, AbbVie is expanding its strategic collaboration with Capsida Biotherapeutics to advance three gene therapy programs for eye diseases, the companies announced Thursday.
The new deal expands on an existing 2021 partnership and aims to “develop transformative therapies for patients with serious eye diseases,” Jonathon Sedgwick, Ph.D., vice president and global head of discovery research, AbbVie, said in a statement.
As per the expanded agreement, AbbVie will give Capsida $70 million in upfront payments and a potential equity investment. The gene therapy specialist could also receive up to $595 million, contingent on exercise options and research and development milestones.
Capsida will remain eligible for commercial milestones and mid-to-high single-digit royalties on future sales of any product that may come out of this deal.
Under the terms of the deal, Capsida will take charge of capsid discovery efforts, process development and early clinical manufacturing. Meanwhile, AbbVie will be responsible for the therapeutic cargo, as well as later-stage development and commercialization.
The partners are not disclosing specific disease areas or the exact number of targets, Peter Anastasiou, CEO, Capsida, told BioSpace in an email.
AbbVie is one of Capsida’s earliest backers, having supplied the California-based biotech with $90 million when it launched in April 2021. This investment was part of a multi-year strategic collaboration to develop three best-in-class targeted gene therapies for serious neurodegenerative conditions.
A common challenge in gene therapy development is limiting the exposure of non-target organs and tissues, Anastasiou said.
Capsida’s novel, next-generation adeno-associated virus (AAV) engineering platform uses machine learning to produce highly specific capsids that can effectively deliver the gene therapeutic to the target cells and tissues. This allows Capsida to administer lower doses of the gene therapy and limit potential toxicities.
Anastasiou said the platform has the potential to improve the efficacy and safety of AAV gene therapies “across a range of therapeutic areas.”
The expanded collaboration will deepen AbbVie’s ophthalmology business, which earned the company $2.7 billion in 2022. AbbVie owns Lumigan (bimatoprost) and Alphagan (brimonidine), both eye drops indicated for open-angle glaucoma and high ocular pressure. Restasis (cyclosporine), indicated for chronic dry eye disease, is also an AbbVie product.
AbbVie has four ophthalmology assets in development, including RGX-314, which is in Phase III for wet age-related macular degeneration and Phase II for diabetic retinopathy. The candidate is being developed in partnership with REGENXBIO.
Aside from AbbVie, Capsida’s AAV platform has attracted other industry heavy hitters, including Eli Lilly subsidiary Prevail Therapeutics. In January, the companies signed a multi-year collaboration to develop best-in-class gene therapies for serious conditions of the central nervous system.