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Two struggling Boston-based gene therapy companies – Solid Biosciences and AavantiBio – announced Friday they are merging to develop a portfolio of neuromuscular and cardiac programs, initially focusing on a lead candidate to treat Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Plunging valuations have made biotech companies tempting acquisition targets for cash-rich Big Pharma and a flurry of deals is just what the battered sector needs to turn a corner.

Pharmaceutical powerhouse AstraZeneca appears to have taken an interest in the company’s London-based partner Mereo BioPharma and may be considering a buyout, according to circulating speculations first reported by The Times UK.