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Gene-Therapy Firm UniQure explores alternatives including sales



(Bloomberg) – UniQure NV explores alternatives including a possible sale among the interest of pharmaceutical companies that want to expand in gene therapy. People with knowledge of the matter have said.

The biotech company works with advisors when it weighs options including sales or partnerships, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. UniQure's shares have risen more than 151% in US trades this year, giving a market value of about $ 2.7 billion.

Large pharmaceutical companies have conducted gene therapy companies that promise to treat rare debilitating diseases by correcting DNA deficiencies. Although the field has not yet delivered a blockbuster, the promise of dramatic cure with multimillion-dollar price tags has triggered a business activity. Cantor Fitzgerald LP said in February that UniQure "could be next" and can attract interest from big companies like Novo Nordisk A / S, Pfizer Inc. and Sanofi.

An affair with UniQure would provide access to a pipeline of experimental treatments for hemophilia, Huntington's disease and other diseases. The company is based in the Netherlands, with approximately 200 employees spread between Amsterdam and Lexington, Massachusetts, according to its website.

Read more: After $ 1 Million Drug Flop, UniQure Revives in Gene Therapy

UniQure shares rose earlier this month after the discontinued plan to attend the Goldman Sachs Group Inc. annual health care conference. The company said it was being pulled out because of a conflict with Chief Executive Officer Matt Kapusta's schedule.

No final decisions have been made and there is no certainty that the deliberations will lead to a transaction, the people said. A representative of UniQure refused to comment.

Biogen Inc. agreed to buy Nightstar Therapeutics Plc earlier this year and Pfizer bought a stake in Vivet Therapeutics. Roche Holding AG agreed to acquire Spark Therapeutics Inc. for $ 4.8 billion, following Novartis AG's acquisition of AveXis Inc. for $ 8.7 billion last year.

UniQure developed Glybera, the first gene therapy approved for sale in Europe, although the $ 1 million treatment had disappointing sales and the company said it would not renew its marketing authorization 2017. Since then, the company has focused on hemophilia treatments.

Gene therapy trades are being subject to some control from the regulators. Earlier this month, the United States Federal Trade Commission asked Roche and Spark for more information as part of its review of their ongoing agreement. The latest FTC request came after the agency said it would need more time to review the transaction in April.

(Updates to the Goldman Sachs Conference in the fifth paragraph.)

– With the help of James Paton and Ruth David. 19659013] To contact the journalists about this story: Manuel Baigorri in Hong Kong at [email protected]; Dinesh Nair in London at [email protected]; Ed Hammond in New York at [email protected]

To contact editors responsible for this story: Dinesh Nair at [email protected], Ben Scent, Frank Connelly

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