Astellas Acquires Gene Therapy Company Quethera

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The acquisition will strengthen Astellas Pharma’s position in ophthalmology.

On Aug. 10, 2018, Astellas Pharma announced that it has acquired Quethera, a Cambridge, United Kingdom-based gene therapy company focused on developing new treatments for ocular disorders, including glaucoma.

Under the terms of the agreement, Astellas may pay up to £85 million (US$108 million) in upfront and contingent payments to Quethera shareholders. Upon the closing of the transaction, Quethera has become a wholly owned subsidiary of Astellas. 

Through this transaction, Astellas has acquired Quethera's ophthalmic gene therapy program, which uses a recombinant adeno-associated viral vector system (rAAV) to introduce therapeutic genes into target retinal cells for the treatment of glaucoma. According to Astrellas, the lead pre-clinical candidate of the program has demonstrated significantly improved survival of retinal ganglion cells in pre-clinical models.

"We believe the rAAV program has potential as a new therapeutic option for the treatment of refractory glaucoma through an intraocular pressure-independent mechanism,” said Kenji Yasukawa, PhD, president and CEO, Astellas Pharma, in a company press release. “It would address a high unmet medical need in glaucoma patients who are at risk of losing their eyesight."


“This deal enables us [at Quethera] to accelerate our evaluation of this investigational technology program to see if we can slow or prevent disease progression for these patients," said Peter Widdowson, PhD, CEO, Quethera, in the release.

Source: Astellas Pharma