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Caught Their Interest

Pharmaceutical companies are warming up to gene therapies, Business Insider reports.

The US Food and Drug Administration approved the first gene therapy, Novartis' Kymriah for acute lymphoblastic leukemia, last August, followed by Kite Pharmaceuticals' Yescarta for large B-cell lymphoma in October. The first gene therapy for an inherited disease, Spark Therapeutics' Luxturna for retinal dystrophy, was approved in December.

The therapies are also pricy. Luxturna, for instance, costs $425,000 per eye.

Business Insider notes that recent movements in mergers and acquisitions underscore pharma's growing interest in such therapies. For instance, Business Insider notes that Novartis acquired Avexis in April for $8.7 billion, while Pfizer acquired Bamboo in 2016 in a $645 million deal. At the same time, Sanofi is collaborating with Voyager Therapeutics and Bayer is partnering with Ultragenyx, it adds.

"Our objectives and the reason we're excited about gene therapies is because we're addressing the fundamental cause of the genetic disease," Bob Smith, who leads the global gene-therapy business at Pfizer, tells Business Insider.