Novartis expands gene therapy deal-making with Voyager

Jan. 2, 2024

Novartis, through its subsidiary Novartis Pharma, has signed a collaboration and capsid license agreement with Massachusetts-based Voyager Therapeutics to advance potential gene therapies for Huntington’s disease (HD) and spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). 

Per the deal, which builds on an already existing relationship between the two companies, Voyager will provide Novartis a target-exclusive license to access Voyager’s proprietary TRACER capsids and other intellectual property for the respective diseases, and Voyager and Novartis will collaborate to advance a preclinical gene therapy candidate for Huntington’s.

Under the terms of the agreement, Novartis will pay Voyager $100 million up front, including a $20 million purchase of newly issued equity in Voyager. Voyager is eligible to receive up to $1.2 billion in milestones, as well as tiered royalties on global sales of products incorporating Voyager’s TRACER capsids. 

According to Voyager, its TRACER (Tropism Redirection of AAV by Cell-type-specific Expression of RNA) capsid discovery platform is a broadly applicable, RNA-based screening platform that enables rapid discovery of AAV capsids with robust penetration of the blood-brain barrier and enhanced central nervous system (CNS) tropism in multiple species, including non-human primates.

Under the original deal announced in March 2022, Novartis handed Voyager $54 million up front for the option to license capsids for up to three CNS targets. A year later, Novartis exercised its option on two targets, giving Voyager an additional $25 million and the chance to receive up to $600 million in associated milestone payments.