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Losing one’s sight is one of the cruelest types of disabilities. 

We depend on that sense for so much of what we do. So, it’s always encouraging to see advances that limit or eliminate causes of severe vision loss and/or blindness – and the types of corporate and commercial transactions that can accelerate that effort.

In this note, we’ll discuss 

·       Retinitis pigmentosa and how it affects sight

·       New research looking at its causes

·       Contractual arrangements aimed at supporting leading edge research and clinical development

Crowley Law has a great deal of experience in helping research-oriented companies negotiate transactions with strategic partners who have the capital necessary to support research and clinical development.  Contact us at (908) 540-6901 or [email protected] to discuss how we can use that expertise to help you move your program forward.

Retinitis Pigmentosa (“RP”) is a complex group of inherited retinal diseases characterized by the progressive loss of photoreceptors and retinal pigment tissue. This condition is not a single entity but rather encompasses a range of disorders that affect vision, making it the most common inherited disease of the retina, affecting tens of thousands of people worldwide.

RP manifests itself in various conditions, including night blindness, field constriction and distinctive pigmentary changes in the retina. Over time, patients might also experience ring scotoma, a condition characterized by a circular area of vision loss.

The X-linked form of Retinitis Pigmentosa (“XLRP”) is particularly severe and accounts for about 6-20% of all RP cases. This subtype of RP is primarily caused by mutations in genes on the X chromosome.

XLRP is a significant health burden due to its severe nature and the blindness it causes. Understanding the genetic basis and clinical progression of this condition is crucial for managing the disease and developing potential treatments. Ongoing research is complex and expensive.  So, it is helpful for smaller research-oriented companies to share the financial burdens of development with strategic partners who have the capacity and expertise to hasten the process.

A recent case makes this point.

Johnson & Johnson, a prominent name in healthcare, has made significant strides in the field of gene therapy, particularly for the treatment of inherited retinal diseases like X-linked retinitis pigmentosa. Their investment in and collaboration with MeiraGTx, a clinical-stage gene therapy company, highlights their commitment to advancing treatments for these complex conditions.

Johnson & Johnson, through its Janssen Pharmaceuticals division, acquired the rights to an investigational gene from MeiraGTx. This therapy is specifically designed for patients with XLRP.  The acquisition is a testament to Johnson & Johnson’s dedication to addressing the unmet medical needs of individuals with genetic eye disorders.

The financial aspects of the agreements between Johnson & Johnson and MeiraGTx are substantial.

MeiraGTx handed off the remaining interests for a rare disease gene therapy to Johnson & Johnson in a deal that could reach up to $415 million. This agreement solidifies the commitment of both entities to advance the treatment of XLRP and potentially bring relief to patients suffering from this debilitating condition​​. Furthermore, MeiraGTx is set to receive $65 million upfront, with the potential for another $65 million the following year, in exchange for foregoing future sales royalties. This financial arrangement underscores the high stakes and potential of gene therapy as a transformative medical treatment​​.

The strategic collaboration extends beyond financial investment. An asset purchase agreement between MeiraGTx and Janssen, a Johnson & Johnson company, includes an upfront payment of $130 million to MeiraGTx. This deal not only provides immediate financial support to MeiraGTx but also positions the company for expedited advancements in its pipeline, particularly for the gene therapy candidate targeting XLRP. Such collaborations are critical for accelerating the development and availability of advanced treatments for patients.

Moreover, Johnson & Johnson’s biggest move into gene therapy includes other financial aspects that could benefit MeiraGTx.

Johnson & Johnson’s work in therapies for retinitis pigmentosa, particularly through the acquisition and development of MeiraGTx’s gene therapy product represents a hopeful advancement for patients affected by this genetic condition. It also shows the importance for research-based companies of creating transaction structures that support and enhance the value of their intellectual property.

Crowley Law has deep experience in these types of transactions.  If you are developing products for which collaboration with a strategic partner may be beneficial, contact us at (908) 540-6901 or [email protected] to schedule a call with a team member.

We’re here to help.



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