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Thermo Fisher strides into gene therapy

Thermo Fisher Scientific is set to buy viral vector manufacturer Brammer Bio for approximately $1.7 billion, in a move that signals a foray into the gene-therapy field for the life sciences equipment maker. Brammer Bio, which makes viral vectors for use in in vivo and ex vivo gene-therapy clinical trials, was formed in 2016 by the merger of Brammer Biopharmaceuticals and Florida Biologix, a spin-out of the University of Florida. Thermo Fisher Scientific says it will incorporate the viral vector manufacturer, which employs almost 600 people, into its pharma services business. “Gene therapy is an area of increasing focus for our customers and is fast-evolving given its potential to treat a range of genetic disorders,” said Thermo Fisher Scientific CEO Marc Casper in a 24 March press release announcing the deal. Thermo Fisher Scientific is no stranger to acquisitions: in 2014 it bought the California-based biotech Life Technologies for approximately $13.6 billion, establishing it as a major player in the genetic testing field (Nat. Biotechnol. 31, 573–574, 2013). Biotech giants are fast snapping up gene-therapy startups. In February, the Swiss pharma giant Roche acquired Spark Therapeutics, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia startup, whose gene therapy to treat an inherited retinal disease won FDA approval in 2017. And in March, Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Biogen acquired London-based biotech Nightstar Therapeutics, which is also developing gene therapies for inherited retinal diseases.

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Thermo Fisher strides into gene therapy. Nat Biotechnol 37, 492 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41587-019-0132-0

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