Vertex Buys ViaCyte for $320 Million

19.07.2022 - US-based Vertex Pharmaceuticals has agreed to pay $320 million in cash to acquire ViaCyte, a compatriot private cellular therapy company specializing in a treatment for type-1 diabetes (T1D). The transaction is expected to close later this year.

T1D is caused by the autoimmune destruction of insulin-producing islet cells in the pancreas, leading to a loss of insulin production and impaired blood glucose control. ViaCyte said its pluripotent stem cell-based technologies are designed to address the limitations of donor islet transplants and “represent a major advance in the development of a functional cure for T1D.”

Vertex has its own investigational allogeneic stem cell-derived islet cell therapy for T1D called VX-880, which has potential to regulate glucose levels by restoring pancreatic islet cell function, including glucose responsive insulin production. VX-880 is said by Vertex to have already yielded “highly promising” safety and efficacy results from an ongoing Phase 1/2 study.

“VX-880 has successfully demonstrated clinical proof of concept in T1D, and the acquisition of ViaCyte will accelerate our goal of transforming, if not curing T1D by expanding our capabilities and bringing additional tools, technologies and assets to our current stem cell-based programs,” said Vertex CEO and president Reshma Kewalramani.

The acquisition provides Vertex with complementary assets, capabilities and technologies, including additional human stem cell lines, intellectual property around stem cell differentiation, and GMP manufacturing facilities for cell-based therapies that could accelerate Vertex’s ongoing T1D programs.

Vertex also gains access to novel hypo-immune stem cell assets via ViaCyte’s collaboration with Swiss gene-editing company CRISPR Therapeutics. Vertex is already working with CRISPR on an investigational therapy for sickle cell disease and transfusion-dependent beta-thalassemia.

Author: Elaine Burridge, Freelance Journalist