Astellas boosts gene therapy presence with Taysha investment

Oct. 27, 2022

Japanese drugmaker Astellas has announced a strategic investment of $50 million into Texas-based biotech Taysha Gene Therapies, gaining access to two of the company’s pipeline gene therapies.

Per the deal, Astellas will invest a total of $50 million to acquire 15% of the outstanding common stock of Taysha and to receive an exclusive option to license two of Taysha’s clinical stage programs for rare genetic disorders: TSHA-102 for Rett syndrome and TSHA-120 for giant axonal neuropathy (GAN).

According to Taysha — which focuses on the development of intrathecally-delivered AAV gene therapies for monogenic central nervous system diseases — TSHA-102 is the first-and-only gene therapy in clinical development for Rett syndrome. TSHA-120 is currently in phase 1/2 development for the treatment of GAN and awaiting regulatory feedback.

Astellas aims to apply its global R&D, manufacturing and commercialization capabilities in gene therapy to Taysha’s innovative AAV gene therapy development programs for genetic diseases of the CNS to create the opportunity for the two companies to enhance the development of novel treatment options for patients with Rett syndrome and GAN, who have serious unmet medical needs.

Astellas, one of Japan’s largest drugmakers, made its first major move in the gene therapy space back in Dec. 2019 when it dropped nearly $3 billion in cash to scoop up San Francisco’s Audentes Therapeutics. A few years later,  the company got a taste of the challenges of gene therapy when four patients died in the trial testing a gene therapy acquired from Audentes for a rare neuromuscular disorder.