Dutch Biotech Acquires Corlieve to Develop Treatment for Temporal Lobe Epilepsy
Matt Kapusta, CEO of uniQure, pictured above. (UniQure)
Netherlands-based gene therapy developer uniQure has acquired biotechnology firm Corlieve Therapeutics with an upfront cash offer of €46.3 million (approx. $55 million), plus additional milestone payments. The agreement centers mainly on the latter's lead program, AMT-260, an advanced treatment for temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE).
TLE is the most common type of focal epilepsy and affects around 1.3 million people in Europe and the U.S. alone. Of this number, some 800,000 reportedly fail in controlling acute seizures using the anti-epileptic treatments currently in use. For this reason, patients who have been diagnosed with TLE generally face a poor quality of life, not to mention a high mortality rate.
AMT-260 works by using miRNA silencing technology to suppress wayward kainate receptors in the hippocampus of people with TLE.
"The acquisition of Corlieve provides an extraordinary opportunity to transform the lives of hundreds of thousands of patients around the world suffering from epilepsy and aligns with our vision of pursuing unmet medical needs for disorders that impact large populations and can be addressed with gene therapies directed to the CNS and liver," said Matt Kapusta, CEO of uniQure, in a press release.
AMT-260 is the brainchild of Corlieve that several scientists aligned with uniQure. These include Christophe Mulle, Ph.D., CNRS Research Director of the Interdisciplinary Institute of Neurosciences, CNRS at the University of Bordeaux, and Valerie Crepel, Ph.D., Inserm Research Director of the Institut de Neurobiologie de la Méditerranée, INSERM at Aix-Marseille University, and REGENXBIO Inc.
Drs. Crepel and Mulle will continue collaborating with uniQure to develop other treatments after the takeover. REGENXBIO, which owns equity in Corlieve, is expected to receive royalties and milestone payments as well.
In addition to the €46.3 million, Corlieve reportedly expects to receive as much as €43.7 million more (approx. $52.1 million) for development milestones in the first phase, then another €160 million (approx. $191 million) in the third phase.
The acquisition comes at a good time for uniQure, which recently revealed positive results so far from its 52-week clinical trial for the HOPE-B (Etranacogene Dezaparvovec) gene therapy. The Food and Drug Administration previously halted the trial after a patient was reportedly diagnosed with cancer after receiving treatment. However, the FDA re-allowed the company in April to continue with its research efforts.
uniQure has several active types of research and trials, with the goal to finally advance the delivery of proprietary gene therapies that would treat patients with Fabry disease, Huntington's disease, hemophilia B, spinocerebellar ataxia Type 3, and other illnesses. Meanwhile, Corlieve Therapeutics, founded by Kurma Partners, is focused on developing new therapeutic options for people diagnosed with severe neurological conditions.
The acquisition has been approved by both companies' boards of directors and does not require shareholder approval. It is set to be completed by the third quarter of 2021, pending a review by the French Ministry of Economy, Finance, and Recovery.