Regeneron to Acquire Decibel Therapeutics, Strengthening Gene Therapy and Hearing Loss Programs
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- Published on Friday, 11 August 2023 15:18
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Proposed acquisition builds on existing collaboration between Decibel and Regeneron, will accelerate and further resource key gene therapy programs for hearing loss
Decibel’s lead investigational gene therapy DB-OTO, designed to provide hearing to people with otoferlin-related hearing loss, is in its first clinical trial
TARRYTOWN, NY and BOSTON, MA, USA I August 09, 2023 I Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: REGN) and Decibel Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: DBTX), a clinical-stage biotechnology company dedicated to discovering and developing transformative treatments to restore and improve hearing and balance, today announced a definitive agreement for the acquisition of Decibel by Regeneron at a price of $4.00 per share of Decibel common stock payable in cash at closing, with an additional non-tradeable contingent value right (CVR) to receive up to $3.50 per share in cash upon achievement of certain clinical development and regulatory milestones for Decibel’s lead investigational candidate, DB-OTO, within specified time periods. The proposed acquisition values Decibel at a total equity value of approximately $109 million based on the amount payable at closing, and a total equity value of up to approximately $213 million if the CVR milestones are achieved.
“We at Decibel are deeply committed to discovering and advancing innovative new therapies with the potential to be transformative for people with severe forms of hearing loss. We have built a pipeline of gene therapy product candidates for the ear that we believe have such potential. After full consideration, the Decibel Board has determined that this transaction is the best way to maximize shareholder value and ultimately benefit patients,” said Laurence E. Reid, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Decibel. “We have collaborated with our colleagues at Regeneron for the past six years and have huge respect for their research and development capabilities. We have full confidence that with Regeneron’s expertise and resources the Decibel pipeline can be optimally developed, and our team is committed to enabling that long-term success.”
Decibel and Regeneron established their initial collaboration in 2017, with an extension announced in 2021, and are developing three gene therapy programs targeting different forms of congenital, monogenic hearing loss. DB-OTO, which is currently in the global Phase 1/2 CHORDTM clinical trial, is an investigational cell-selective, adeno-associated virus (AAV) gene therapy designed to provide durable, physiological hearing to individuals with profound, congenital hearing loss caused by mutations of the otoferlin gene. Preclinical programs include AAV.103 for people with GJB2-related hearing loss and AAV.104 for people with stereocilin (STRC)-related hearing loss.
“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,” said George D. Yancopoulos, M.D., Ph.D., Board co-Chair, Chief Scientific Officer and President of Regeneron. “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 potential proof-of-concept for future gene therapies addressing more common forms of genetic hearing loss. We believe that Decibel’s assets and specialized 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.”
Congenital hearing loss is a significant unmet medical need with no approved medical therapies that affects approximately 1.7 out of every 1,000 children born in the United States. While hearing loss caused by mutations of the otoferlin gene is rare, the majority of permanent, congenital hearing loss cases diagnosed in developed countries are sensorineural and result from a single gene defect, making them appealing targets for gene therapy. Hearing aids and cochlear implants may offer benefits, but they fall short of replicating normal hearing function.
The merger agreement provides for Regeneron, through its wholly owned subsidiary Symphony Acquisition Sub, Inc., to initiate a tender offer to acquire all outstanding shares of Decibel at a price of $4.00 per share of Decibel common stock payable in cash at closing plus one CVR payable in cash subject to the terms and conditions contained in a contingent value rights agreement (“CVR Agreement”). CVR holders would become entitled to receive contingent payments as follows: (i) $2.00 in cash, upon the fifth participant being administered with DB-OTO in a clinical trial on or prior to December 31, 2024 (the DB-OTO Milestone); and (ii) $1.50 in cash, upon (a) the first participant being administered with DB-OTO in a registration enabling trial (as defined in the CVR Agreement) or (b) acceptance for review of a Biologics License Application by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a Marketing Authorization Application by the European Medicines Agency or the U.K. Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, or an equivalent application by the applicable national regulatory authority in any of Germany, France, Italy or Spain for DB-OTO, whichever occurs first, on or prior to December 31, 2028; provided the DB-OTO Milestone is achieved on or prior to December 31, 2024. There can be no assurance that any payments will be made with respect to the CVR. The closing of the tender offer will be subject to certain conditions, including the tender of at least a majority of the outstanding shares of Decibel common stock and other customary closing conditions. Upon the successful completion of the tender offer, Regeneron will acquire all shares not acquired in the tender through a second-step merger for the same consideration per share paid in the tender offer. The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2023.
Regeneron’s legal advisor for the transaction is Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz. Centerview Partners LLC and Leerink Partners LLC are serving as Decibel’s financial advisors and Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP is serving as Decibel’s legal advisor.
Regeneron (NASDAQ: REGN) is a leading biotechnology company that invents life-transforming medicines for people with serious diseases. Founded and led for 35 years by physician-scientists, our unique ability to repeatedly and consistently translate science into medicine has led to nine FDA-approved treatments and numerous product candidates in development, almost all of which were homegrown in our laboratories. Our medicines and pipeline are designed to help patients with eye diseases, allergic and inflammatory diseases, cancer, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, hematologic conditions, infectious diseases and rare diseases.
Regeneron is accelerating and improving the traditional drug development process through our proprietary VelociSuite® technologies, such as VelocImmune®, which uses unique genetically humanized mice to produce optimized fully human antibodies and bispecific antibodies, and through ambitious research initiatives such as the Regeneron Genetics Center, which is conducting one of the largest genetics sequencing efforts in the world.
For additional information about the company, please visit www.regeneron.com or follow Regeneron on LinkedIn.
About Decibel Therapeutics
Decibel Therapeutics is a clinical-stage biotechnology company dedicated to discovering and developing transformative treatments to restore and improve hearing and balance, one of the largest areas of unmet need in medicine. Decibel has built a proprietary platform that integrates single-cell genomics and bioinformatic analyses, precision gene therapy technologies and expertise in inner ear biology. Decibel is leveraging its platform to advance gene therapies designed to selectively replace genes for the treatment of congenital, monogenic hearing loss and to regenerate inner ear hair cells for the treatment of acquired hearing and balance disorders. Decibel’s pipeline, including its lead gene therapy product candidate, DB-OTO, to treat congenital, monogenic hearing loss, is designed to deliver on our vision of creating a world of connection for people with hearing and balance disorders. For more information about Decibel Therapeutics, please visit www.decibeltx.com or follow us on Twitter.
SOURCE: Regeneron Pharmaceuticals