Several high-value licensing deals or acquisitions made in 2022 in the central nervous system (CNS) therapeutic area involve large pharma companies, suggesting a resurgence of interest in the field among such companies. The deals (see deal snapshots) involve a range of approaches for CNS diseases, including small-molecule antagonists of the calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) receptor for migraines, small-molecule modulators of the synaptic vesicle protein 2A (SV2A) for Alzheimer’s disease and major depressive disorder, and gene therapies based on adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors.
Pfizer led the high-value dealmaking with its $11.6-billion acquisition of Biohaven Pharmaceuticals and its potential blockbuster migraine therapy Nurtec (rimegepant) in May 2022. Rimegepant, an oral small-molecule CGRP antagonist, has been approved in the US for both the acute treatment of migraine and the preventative treatment of episodic migraine, and has also been approved in the EU under the name Vydura.
AbbVie also made a high-value acquisition in the CNS field, with its potential $1-billion purchase of Syndesi Therapeutics in March 2022. Syndesi is focused on modulators of a novel target, SV2A, and its lead candidate is currently in phase 1b trials.
Finally, Novartis signed a potential $1-billion deal with Voyager Therapeutics to gain access to the latter’s RNA-based screening platform for AAV9- and AAV5-derived capsids for gene therapies.