Novartis to acquire gene therapy leader AveXis for $8.7B

April 9 (UPI) — Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis announced Monday it will acquire U.S. gene therapy company AveXis Inc. for $8.7 billion.

At the heart of the deal is AveXis’ breakthrough drug, AVXS-101, a possible genre replacement therapy for spinal muscular atrophy.

Researchers say the one-shot treatment has the potential to reverse spinal muscular atrophy, which typically results in early death or lifelong disability and large healthcare costs.

The drug is expected to be patented in the United States in 2019, with similar designations pending in Japan and in the European Union.

Illinois-based AveXis is regarded a leader in finding therapies for rare neurological disorders. Novartis offered to purchase outstanding AveXis shares at $218 per share, 72 percent above its average stock price, a company statementsaid.

Novartis said the funding will come from available cash and short-term borrowing.