American Gene Technologies International announced that it is spinning off it’s HIV-focused gene therapy company Addimmune in a SPAC deal that values the enterprise at $500 million. Addimmune will be publicly traded under ticker HIV, while American Gene Technologies’ (AGT) non-HIV assets will continue under the AGT name.
AGT has focused on gene therapy for the past 15 years and announced this summer its intention to spin out its HIV-focused operations following promising initial results from phase I clinical trials. The SPAC deal is expected to close during Q1 2024 and is expected to facilitate Addimmune in completing clinical trials and commercialize its gene-based “cure” for HIV.
“Were at the forefront of gene therapy for HIV, working to transform the fear of a lifelong disease into hope for a single-administration, one-and-done cure,” according to the companies’ joint press release. “We believe that people living with HIV may no longer require lifelong treatment and we imagine a day when this disease no longer causes suffering or claims lives anywhere in the world.”
38 million people currently live with HIV globally, with 1.2 million in the United States. According to the World Health Organization, 40.4 million people have died from HIV since the beginning of the epidemic in 1981. During the 1980s, contracting the virus was likely a death sentence as the virus destroyed patients’ immune systems. In 1987, the Food and Drug Administration approved zidovudine, “the most effective drug to date for combating HIV/AIDS and the first anti-HIV drug approved for use.” The anti-viral medication interferes with the virus’s replication and, if taken continuously, typically helps keep the disease at bay.
Over the past 40 years 31 additional anti-viral medications, one pharmacokinetic enhancer, and 21 fixed-dose combinations have been approved to combat HIV, creating a treatment market valued at $22.5 billion to $31 billion. As the following chart depicts, an increasing number of individuals have been able to live with the virus. Global deaths from HIV have halved over the past decade.
Despite such treatments, however, approximately 1 million people die per year from HIV, particularly across Sub-Saharan Africa. The virus is the leading cause of death in some nations.
Those with access to the current medications must take a daily cocktail to sustain the effects and keep the virus at bay. Addimmune takes a fundamentally different approach: altering the patients’ own immune system via gene therapy. The company’s “cell therapy is designed to modify a patients immune system so that it is capable of fighting HIV like a normal virus.” Specifically, the treatment “makes gene modifications to the patients immune cells (T cells) that harden those cells against HIV infection and depletion, thus allowing those cells to maintain a normal response to HIV instead of being killed by the virus. When HIV T cells survive and do their job, they fight HIV just like the immune system is able to fight a cold or flu.”
According to Matterhorn’s comprehensive M&A database, which harnesses AI to track current and historical deals, AGT is represented by law firm DLA Piper and the SPAC, 10X Capital Venture Acquisition Corp. III, is advised by Latham & Watkins LLP.