ProQR, Théa ink new $8.6M pact for eye assets after old one collapsed
After an earlier version of the deal crumbled, ProQR has finally managed to sell off its ophthalmology assets to Laboratoires Théa, this time for €8 million ($8.6 million) with the potential to make up to €165 million ($177 million) in biobucks.
Dutch biotech ProQR has been trying to offload RNA therapies sepofarsen and ultevursen for more than a year now, with hopes of turning its focus to targets for cholestatic and cardiovascular diseases. In August, the company seemed to have found a taker with eye care-focsed Théa. The two biotechs announced a deal in which Théa would pay €12.5 million ($13.7 million) upfront for the two assets, while also giving ProQR the chance to make up to €135 million ($148 million) in biobucks.
The offer was short-lived though, with Théa canceling the pact at the end of September after ProQR failed to meet the conditions. The sale depended on Théa hiring several key ophthalmology personnel from ProQR to help build out a team specializing in inherited retinal disorders. However, some of the ProQR employees decided not to work at Théa, so the conditions weren’t met.
Now, though, the two have closed on a revised agreement. ProQR plans to ask for confidential treatment from the Securities and Exchange Commission for certain parts of the amended deal, according to SEC documents.
Théa now owns the rights to sepofarsen, which is designed to restore vision in people with the severe inherited retinal disease Leber congenital amaurosis 10, and ultevursen, a therapy to treat vision loss in Usher syndrome type 2a and non-syndromic retinitis pigmentosa.
Sepofarsen previously failed to improve vision in a phase 2/3 trial and European regulators had asked for an additional pivotal study before ProQR could seek approval. The regulatory feedback prompted ProQR to halt trials of both sepofarsen and ultevursen, followed by a restructuring that included a 30% workforce reduction and eventually, a shift away from genetic eye diseases.