Regeneron Pharmaceuticals has entered a definitive agreement to acquire Decibel Therapeutics, to accelerate key gene therapy programmes for hearing loss.

The proposed deal values Decibel at a total equity value of nearly $109m based on the amount that would be payable at closing, and around $213m on achieving the contingent value right (CVR) milestones.

Regeneron, through its subsidiary Symphony Acquisition, will initiate a tender offer for acquiring all Decibel’s outstanding shares for $4.00 per share of Decibel common stock which would be paid in cash at closing.

An additional non-tradeable CVR of up to $3.50 per share will be paid in cash on achieving some clinical development and regulatory milestones for DB-OTO, Decibel’s lead investigational candidate.

The proposed acquisition is built on the existing collaboration between the two entities initially formed in 2017.

Together, the companies are developing three gene therapy programmes for treating different forms of congenital, monogenic hearing loss.

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The first adeno-associated virus (AAV) gene therapy DB-OTO is currently being studied in the global Phase I/II CHORD clinical trial.

It provides durable, physiological hearing to individuals with congenital hearing loss that is caused by the otoferlin gene mutations.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals chief scientific officer, president and Board co-chair George Yancopoulos said: “We are delighted to announce the planned acquisition of Decibel, who have been long-standing collaborators, notable for their deep scientific knowledge and commitment to people with hearing loss.

“DB-OTO, our shared lead investigational gene therapy, will soon reach patients in its first clinical trial, offering new promise to children with this rare form of congenital hearing loss, as well as a potential proof-of-concept for future gene therapies addressing more common forms of genetic hearing loss.

“We believe that Decibel’s assets and specialised team will further strengthen our genetic medicines portfolio, enabling Regeneron to accelerate the development of innovative genetic therapies and a rich pipeline of hearing loss treatments.”

The transaction is anticipated to close in the third quarter of this year.

Cell & Gene Therapy coverage on Pharmaceutical Technology is supported by Cytiva.

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