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UniQure Gene Therapy Firm Explores Options, Including Sales



(Bloomberg) – UniQure NV is exploring different options, including a potential sale triggered by the interest of pharmaceutical companies looking to expand into gene therapy, say people familiar with the subject.

The biotech company works with advisors because it weighs several options, including a sale or partnerships, depending on who asked not to be identified because the information is confidential. UniQure's shares have grown by more than 151% in US trading this year, giving it a market value of approximately $ 2.7 billion.

Large pharmaceutical companies have been looking for gene therapy companies that promise to treat rare and debilitating diseases by correcting DNA defects. Although the field has not yet delivered a blockbuster, the promise of spectacular remedies with multi-million dollar price tags has triggered a wave of commercial activity. In February, Cantor Fitzgerald LP said that UniQure "could be next" and could interest large cap companies such as Novo Nordisk A / S, Pfizer Inc. and Sanofi.

An agreement with UniQure would provide access to a portfolio of experimental treatments for hemophilia, Huntington's disease and other disorders. The company is incorporated in the Netherlands and employs approximately 200 people from Amsterdam to Lexington, Massachusetts, according to its website.

Read more: After the flop of million-dollar drugs, UniQure returns to gene therapy

UniQure shares jumped earlier this month following the cancellation of Goldman Sachs Group Inc.'s annual health conference participation plan. The company announced its withdrawal following a conflict with the CEO's program. , Matt Kapusta.

No final decision has been made and there is no certainty that the deliberations will result in a transaction, people said. A representative of UniQure declined to comment.

Biogen Inc. agreed earlier this year to purchase Nightstar Therapeutics Plc and Pfizer has taken a stake in Vivet Therapeutics. Roche Holding AG agreed in February to acquire Spark Therapeutics Inc. for $ 4.8 billion following the purchase of AveXis Inc. by Novartis AG for $ 8.7 billion. last year.

UniQure developed Glybera, the first gene therapy approved for sale in Europe, while the $ 1 million treatment had disappointing sales and the company announced that it would not renew its marketing authorization in 2017. Since then, the company has focused on the treatment of hemophilia.

Gene therapy agreements are beginning to be scrutinized by regulators. Earlier this month, the US Federal Trade Commission asked Roche and Spark for additional information as part of the review of the pending agreement. The latest request from the FTC came after the agency announced in April that it would need more time to review the deal.

(Updates with the Goldman Sachs conference in the fifth paragraph.)

– With the help of James Paton and Ruth David.

To contact the reporters on this story: Manuel Baigorri in Hong Kong at mbaigorri@bloomberg.net, Dinesh Nair in London at dnair5@bloomberg.net, Ed Hammond in New York at ehammond12@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Dinesh Nair at dnair5@bloomberg.net, Ben Scent, Frank Connelly

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