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Seattle Biotech Firm Shape Therapeutics Inks Gene Therapy Deal with Roche Worth Up to $3B

By August 25, 2021No Comments

Shape Therapeutics has signed a deal potentially exceeding $3 billion with pharma giant Roche to support the development of gene therapies for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, the Seattle company announced Wednesday.

Shape’s RNA editing technologies can change the sequence of RNA, which encodes the body’s protein building blocks. The company will deploy this technology with Roche in preclinical studies against targets relevant for these neurological conditions as well as certain rare diseases.

The collaboration may also leverage the biotech company’s technologies for gene delivery. This system is designed to deliver RNA editing technology or other payloads directly to specific areas of the body, such as the nervous system or muscle.

Shape aims to “unlock the next breakthrough in RNA technologies in the gene therapy space across a wide range of therapeutic areas,” said Francois Vigneault, co-founder and CEO, in a statement.

Shape’s RNA editing technology could potentially be used to change the amount of a key regulatory protein in the body or treat genetic diseases. The company’s gene delivery technology is based on AAV vectors, a platform currently used to treat several rare conditions.

Under the agreement, Shape is eligible to receive an initial payment as well payments for hitting development, regulatory and sales milestones potentially exceeding $3 billion in aggregate value. Any products from the collaboration will be developed and commercialized by Roche.

The collaboration comes on the heels of a recent $112 million Series B investment in June for the biotech, founded in 2018 with RNA editing technology spun out of the lab of co-founder Prashant Mali, a bioengineer at the University of California, San Diego.

Vigneault was former VP of research at Juno Therapeutics, a Seattle cell therapy company acquired by Celgene in 2018 for $9 billion. Other Juno veterans include Shape’s head of platform technologies Adrian Briggs and vice president and head of research David Huss.

The new collaboration may reflect growing drug company interest in neurosciences, which is on the upswing after a lull several years ago. The recent FDA approval of Biogen’s Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm may also be propelling interest in the field.

“This new collaboration is also perfectly aligned with our broader efforts across the Roche Group to unlock the full potential of gene therapy,” said James Sabry, Head of Roche Pharma Partnering, in a statement.