Voyager will receive an upfront payment of $30m, potential option exercise fees and milestone payments of up to $600m, in addition to royalties


Pfizer World Headquarters in Manhattan, New York. (Credit: Coolcaesar/Wikipedia.)

Voyager Therapeutics and Pfizer have reached an agreement, under which Pfizer can license novel capsids from Voyager’s RNA-driven TRACER screening technology.

TRACER is an abbreviated form for Tropism Redirection of AAV (adeno-associated virus) by Cell-type-specific Expression of RNA technology.

Under the terms of the agreement, Pfizer will obtain the right to novel capsids selected from Voyager’s TRACER platform for the central nervous system and cardiac tropisms.

Also, the US drugmaker can license capsids for exclusive use in the development of AAV gene therapies incorporating two unrevealed transgenes, different from Voyager’s pipeline.

Voyager is eligible to receive an upfront payment of $30m and is entitled to receive additional fees of up to $20m for two options, which Pfizer can exercise within 12 months.

It is also entitled to earn up to $580m in potential development, regulatory, and commercial milestone payments, in addition to royalties related to the licensed products.

The gene therapy company will retain its global rights to all licensed capsids for use with other transgenes and all other applications of its TRACER technology.

The licensing is part of its efforts to develop, manufacture, and commercialise gene therapies, to treat certain neurologic and cardiovascular diseases, said Pfizer.

Pfizer rare disease research unit senior vice president and chief scientific officer Seng Cheng said: “Our collaboration with Voyager will provide Pfizer with access to additional AAV capsids that may help further advance our industry-leading gene therapy portfolio.

“We are impressed with Voyager’s results to date and are enthusiastic about the potential to utilise these novel capsids to help accelerate the development of new therapeutic options for patients living with certain neurologic and cardiovascular diseases.”

Voyager is a US-based gene therapy company engaged in developing treatments and next-generation AAV platform technologies.

Its TRACER system is an RNA-based screening platform that allows for rapid in-vivo evolution of AAV capsids with enhanced tropisms and cell- and tissue-specific transduction.

The company is further screening its platform to identify additional AAV capsids for use in gene therapies to treat a wide range of diseases.

Also, it has launched additional capsid campaigns derived from AAV9 and other capsid serotypes to identify novel AAV vectors optimised for specific therapeutic applications.

Voyager interim CEO Michael Higgins said: “This transaction highlights the potential of our TRACER platform to identify novel AAV capsids that target desired cells and tissues with greater specificity at lower doses and with fewer off-target risks than conventional AAV serotypes.

“We believe that our TRACER platform has the ability to produce not only enhanced blood-brain-barrier penetrant capsids, but also novel capsids with enhanced tropisms across a diversity of tissues and cell types, offering promise to unlock the fullest potential of gene therapies for a wide array of diseases with unmet medical need.”