Fortress Biotech subsidiary Aevitas Therapeutics has signed an asset purchase deal to sell the proprietary rights to its short-form human complement factor H (sCFH) asset to 4D Molecular Therapeutics for $140m in cash.

sCFH is an engineered and improved version of complement factor H (CFH) that can fit into adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors with solid expression and applications confirmed in cultured human cells in vitro, in addition to various preclinical animal models in vivo.

Reinstating CFH function by employing the sCFH protein could restore normal complement regulation and minimise retinal injury that manifests as progressive geographic atrophy (GA).

Aevitas will receive the payment as potential late-stage development, regulatory and sales milestones. The firm will also receive single-digit royalties on net sales.

4DMT will be responsible for licence payments to the University of Pennsylvania, where the Perelman School of Medicine’s pharmacology professor, Dr Wenchao Song, jointly invented and developed the sCFH technology.

Fortress chairman, president and CEO and Aevitas executive chairman Lindsay A Rosenwald stated: “This agreement with 4DMT allows Fortress to focus on acquiring and developing clinical-stage treatments, while potentially expediting the development and commercialisation of this preclinical sCFH technology.

“Partnering with 4DMT further validates the Fortress business model of identifying and developing promising treatments for patients, while pursuing opportunities that potentially maximise shareholder value.

“We look forward to 4DMT using their vector platform to continue the development of the sCFH asset to potentially treat geographic atrophy (GA) and other diseases.”