License Option Agreement with Pfizer for Voyager Therapeutic’s Next-Generation TRACERᵀᴹ AAV Capsids
Voyager Therapeutics, a gene therapy company developing adeno-associated virus (AAV) platform technologies, announced an agreement through which Pfizer may exercise options to license novel capsids generated from Voyager’s RNA-driven TRACERTM (Tropism Redirection of AAV by Cell-type-specific Expression of RNA) screening technology as part of Pfizer’s efforts to develop, manufacture, and commercialize gene therapies, utilizing two undisclosed transgenes to treat certain neurologic and cardiovascular diseases.
Proprietary AAV capsids derived from Voyager’s TRACER platform have demonstrated superior blood-brain-barrier penetration, enhanced cardiac muscle tropism, and increased transgene expression in target tissues compared to conventional AAV capsids as measured in non-human primates (NHPs). Voyager presented data at the 24th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy for one capsid candidate demonstrating more than 1,000-fold increased transgene expression compared to conventional AAV9 across a wide array of brain regions when dosed intravenously in NHPs. Results presented also included another capsid candidate showing significantly enhanced cardiac muscle transduction and dorsal root ganglia de-targeting compared to conventional AAV9. Voyager is performing further screening with its TRACER platform to identify additional proprietary AAV capsids targeting multiple tissue and cell types for use in gene therapies to treat a broad range of diseases.
Under the terms of the agreement, Pfizer will have the right to evaluate novel capsids selected for central nervous system and cardiac tropisms from Voyager’s TRACER platform and to exercise options to license capsids for exclusive use in Pfizer’s development of AAV gene therapies incorporating two undisclosed transgenes. These transgenes will be distinct from those planned for Voyager’s internal pipeline. Voyager will retain global rights to all licensed capsids for use with other transgenes and to all other applications of its TRACER technology.
Voyager will receive $30 million upfront and is entitled to receive up to $20 million in exercise fees for two options, exercisable by Pfizer within 12 months of signing. In addition, Voyager will be eligible to earn up to $580 million in total development, regulatory, and commercial milestones associated with licensed products incorporating the two undisclosed Pfizer transgenes together with a Voyager licensed capsid. Voyager is also eligible to receive mid- to high-single-digit tiered royalties based on net sales of Pfizer’s products incorporating the licensed capsids.