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Voyager (VYGR) Surges on Gene Therapy Deal With Pfizer

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Voyager Therapeutics, Inc. (VYGR - Free Report) announced that it has entered into an agreement with pharma giant Pfizer (PFE - Free Report) , granting the latter options to gain exclusive license to novel capsids developed using Voyager’s RNA-driven TRACER screening technology.

Pfizer will have the right to evaluate novel capsids selected for central nervous system and cardiac tropisms under the agreement. The company may exercise its option within 12 months to license the capsids for exclusive use to develop gene therapies incorporating two undisclosed transgenes.

Capsids are protein shell that enclose the genetic material of virus that is used to develop a gene therapy.

Per the agreement, Voyager will receive upfront payment of $30 million from Pfizer. Voyager is also entitled to receive up to $20 million in fees upon exercise of the options granted to gain exclusive license. The company is also eligible to receive up to $580 million in milestone payments related to development, regulatory, and commercialization of potential gene therapies developed under the agreement. It will also receive royalties on potential sales of any product developed by Pfizer incorporating the licensed capsids.

Shares of Voyager surged 56.7% on Oct 6, following the deal announcement with the pharma giant. The company’s shares have declined 45.9% so far this year compared with the industry’s decrease of 12%.

Zacks Investment ResearchImage Source: Zacks Investment Research

The company’s proprietary AAV capsids have demonstrated superior blood-brain-barrier penetration, enhanced cardiac muscle tropism, and increased transgene expression in target tissues in pre-clinical studies. The use of these capsids may help Pfizer develop highly effective gene therapies.

Voyager is currently developing gene therapies with its novel proprietary AAV capsids that have a significant potential to be more reliably on-target with less risk of dose-limiting toxicities. It has a rich early-stage/pre-clinical pipeline of new and second-generation programs in Huntington’s disease, Monogenic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (SOD1), spinal muscular atrophy, and diseases linked to GBA1 mutations.

Zacks Rank & Stocks to Consider

Voyager currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Some better-ranked stocks in the same sector include Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (REGN - Free Report) and Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX - Free Report) , each currently carrying a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Regeneron’s earnings per share estimates for 2021 have increased from $52.83 to $61.41 in the past 60 days. The same for 2022 has risen from $44.12 to $46.73 over the same period. The stock has rallied 31.9% in the year so far.

Vertex’s earnings per share estimates for 2021 have been raised from $12.28 to $12.37 in the past 60 days. The same for 2022 has been revised upward from $13.02 to $13.13 over the same period.