Vivet Therapeutics, a Paris, France-based gene therapy biotech company dedicated to developing treatments for inherited liver disorders with high unmet medical need, received a 15% equity investment from Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE).
Pfizer also secured an exclusive option to acquire all outstanding shares. Under the terms of the transaction, Pfizer paid approximately €45m (US$51m) upon signing and may pay up to €560m (US$635.8m) inclusive of the option exercise payment and subject to certain clinical, regulatory, and commercial milestones. Pfizer can exercise its option to acquire 100% of Vivet following the company’s delivery of certain data from the Phase I/II clinical trial for VTX-801. As part of the deal, Pfizer senior executive Monika Vnuk, M.D., Vice President, Worldwide Business Development, will join Vivet’s Board of Directors.
The two companies will collaborate on the development of VTX-801, Vivet’s proprietary treatment for Wilson disease, a devastating, rare, chronic, and potentially life-threatening liver disorder of impaired copper transport that causes serious copper poisoning. In patients with Wilson disease, a monogenetic mutation disables the normal copper biliary excretion pathway leading to excess copper accumulation in the liver and other organs including the central nervous system. Untreated, Wilson disease results in various combinations and severity of hepatic (fibrosis and cirrhosis), neurologic and psychiatric symptoms, which can be fatal and that can only be cured by liver transplantation. Existing therapies for Wilson disease have sub-optimal efficacy or significant side effects for many patients.
Led by Jean-Phillippe Combal, Co-Founder & CEO, and Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer Gloria Gonzalez-Aseguinolaza, Vivet Therapeutics is a biotechnology company developing novel gene therapy treatments for rare, inherited metabolic diseases. It is building a diversified gene therapy pipeline based on novel adeno-associated virus (AAV) technologies developed through its partnerships with, and exclusive licenses from, the Fundación para la Investigación Médica Aplicada (FIMA), a not-for-profit foundation at the Centro de Investigación Medica Aplicada (CIMA), University of Navarra based in Pamplona, Spain.
Its lead program, VTX-801, is a novel investigational gene therapy for Wilson disease which has been granted Orphan Drug Designation (ODD) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Commission (EC). In addition to its Wilson disease program, Vivet is also advancing liver-directed gene therapy programs for progressive familial intrahepatic cholestasis (PFIC) for bile excretion defects and citrullinemia for defects in the urea cycle, which leads to the buildup of ammonia and other toxic substances in the blood.
The company is backed by international life science investors including Novartis Venture Fund, Roche Venture Fund, HealthCap, Columbus Venture Partners, Ysios Capital, Kurma Partners and Idinvest Partners.