Following the news that Sanofi has withdrawn from a gene therapy deal with Voyageur Therapeutics, Vinie Varkey, Pharma Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers his view on what this means for both companies:
“At a time when Novartis’ Zolgensma US FDA approval for Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) has certainly accelerated the excitement for other gene therapies across multiple indications, it looks like Sanofi may have taken a surprising step back in this direction.
“Under the restructured plan announced by Voyageur Therapeutics, while Sanofi’s development and commercialization rights to the gene therapies programs for Huntington’s disease and Friedreich’s Ataxia are terminated, the company will still have the opportunity to leverage Voyageur’s viral vector platform for use in up to two non- central nervous system (CNS) indications.
“According to GlobalData, with the exception of Zolgensma which is anticipated to receive an approval in the EU and Japan following its US FDA approval in May 2019, no other gene therapy pipeline products for CNS indications are in Phase 3 in the eight major markets (8MM*).
“At the moment, Sanofi has gene therapy-based pipeline products being developed for Stargardt Disease and rare blood disorders. However, their withdrawal from the deal with Voyageur Therapeutics certainly reduces the pipeline depth required of a company to bolster its chance of reaping the benefits of transformative therapies in multiple indications. While this situation may lead to some uncertainty, it will also remain to be seen how much of an impact the recently announced collaboration with Google will help Sanofi in regaining a portfolio of pipeline products that is balanced as well as transformative.
“For Voyageur Therapeutics, this is likely to resemble an opportunity to partner with another company who can help them advance their gene therapy products into late-stage clinical trials and eventually, successful market launches. Given that the knowledge on gene therapy mechanisms are expected to unravel as more of such therapies are anticipated to enter the market, companies with proprietary gene therapy platforms are fast becoming an attractive partner for collaborations with bigger companies or possible buy-outs. And it will not be a surprise if Voyageur Therapeutics is in the limelight for similar reasons.”
*8MM: The US, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, Japan and China