Roche has entered into a definitive merger agreement to fully acquire Spark Therapeutics. According to a new press release, the acquisition is being made at a price of “$114.50 per share in an all-cash transaction,” corresponding to a “total equity value of approximately $4.8 billion.” As part of the agreement, Spark will continue operating out of its Philadelphia, PA headquarters as an independent company within the Roche Group.

Spark currently has investigational gene therapy candidates in clinical trials for both hemophilia A and hemophilia B. These therapies were developed with Spark’s proprietary bioengineered adeno-associated viruses (AAVs) that act as delivery vehicles, or vectors, to carry the genetic codes that prompt FVIII production in the case of hemophilia A, and factor IX in the case of hemophilia B. Their technology employs modified novel AAV vectors to deliver the corrected FVIII and FIX genes into liver cells where the protein is normally generated.

“As the only biotechnology company that has successfully commercialized a gene therapy for a genetic disease in the U.S., we have built unmatched competencies in the discovery, development and delivery of genetic medicines. But the needs of patients and families living with genetic diseases are immediate and vast,” said Jeffrey D. Marrazzo, chief executive officer of Spark Therapeutics. “With its worldwide reach and extensive resources, Roche will help us accelerate the development of more gene therapies for more patients for more diseases and further expedite our vision of a world where no life is limited by genetic disease.”

“Spark Therapeutics’ proven expertise in the entire gene therapy value chain may offer important new opportunities for the treatment of serious diseases,” said Severin Schwan, chief executive officer of Roche. “In particular, Spark’s hemophilia A program could become a new therapeutic option for people living with this disease. We are also excited to continue the investments in Spark’s broad product portfolio and commitment to Philadelphia as a center of excellence.”

Source: Spark press release and Bloomberg news, both dated February 25, 2019