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Baxter Acquiring Hemophilia Gene-Therapy Biotech Company

Adeno-associated virus

Adeno-associated virus (LBL.gov)

3 April 2014. Baxter International, a pharmaceutical and medical products company in Deerfield, Illinois is buying Chatham Therapeutics LLC, a developer of gene therapy to treat hemophilia. Under the agreement, Baxter will acquire outstanding LLC interests in Chatham for $70 million, but future milestone payments are also possible.

The acquisition gives Baxter access to all of Chatham’s research on gene therapy to treat hemophilia, an inherited disorder where blood is missing its normal ability to clot. Blood gets its clotting ability from proteins called clotting factors that work with platelets, which under normal conditions stick together when blood vessels are damaged and bleeding occurs. There are two types of hemophilia, A and B, depending on the type of absent clotting factors. Type A accounts for about 80 percent of all hemophilia cases.

Chatham Therapeutics, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, is developing treatments for hemophilia A and B with a technology that harnesses benign viruses called adeno-associated viruses. These viruses are not pathogenic, thus do not cause disease and can serve as carriers for DNA strands. Chatham’s technology creates engineered adeno-associated viruses to carry healthy DNA to hemophilia sufferers. The technology was tested to treat hemophilia B in a small clinical study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine in December 2011.

Baxter agreed to license Chatham’s adeno-associated virus technology in June 2012 to develop a hemophilia B treatment. That program advanced to an early-stage clinical trial conducted in association with Asklepios BioPharmaceutical Inc., also in Chapel Hill, a company with which Chatham has a close relationship, including overlapping leadership. That trial is testing the safety and dosing levels of Chatham’s gene-therapy technology with 16 patients having hemophilia B.

The acquisition agreement calls for Baxter and Asklepios to continue their licensing and developmental ventures. Asklepios has gene-therapy programs for other conditions, including diseases of the heart, central nervous system, muscles, eyes, and liver.

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Hat tip: Fortune/Term Sheet

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