Two more gene therapies for Axovant


Axovant’s quest to buy up languishing gene therapy assets continued this week in a deal with Massachusetts Medical School, but an equity raise announced just hours later looks to have erased any resulting stock market gain. In premarket trading this morning Axovant was off 6%, meaning that it had failed to reverse Monday’s 27% slump caused by the failure of the 5-HT2A inverse agonist nelotanserin in Lewy body dementia patients with sleep behaviour disorder. That fall was odd given that, through recent deals with Oxford Biomedica and Benitec, Axovant has largely switched focus to gene therapies. Yesterday’s tie-up with Massachusetts brings in AXO-AAV-GM1 and AXO-AAV-GM2, projects to treat GM1 and GM2 gangliosidosis respectively, but Axovant’s desire for more cash is puzzling: the group had $154m in the bank at the end of September. Perhaps the markets are growing tired of trying to untangle the web of “vant” companies being seeded by Roivant Sciences, the private group that still controls Axovant (Still don’t believe in a biotech bubble? Check out Axovant, June 12, 2015). A separate gene therapy, RVT-1801 for sickle cell disease and beta-thalassaemia, has been assigned to the latest of these, Aruvant Sciences.

Axovant's project-specific R&D spend for the 6mth ended Sep 30 ($m)
Project Derived from 2018 2017
AXO-AAV-GM1 Massachusetts Medical School
AXO-AAV-GM2 Massachusetts Medical School
AXO-Lenti-PD Oxford Biomedica 26.3
AXO-AAV-OPMD Benitec Biopharma 11.7
Intepirdine* Glaxosmithkline 2.3 47.7
Nelotanserin* Arena Pharmaceuticals 7.6 6.8
RVT-103* Qaam Pharmaceuticals 0.0 0.6
RVT-104* Qaam Pharmaceuticals (0.1) 0.6
*Failed project. Source: SEC filing.

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