Alexion, the rare disease division of AstraZeneca, said Monday it will acquire the small Lexington gene therapy company LogicBio for about $70 million, a 666 percent premium over the company’s stock price before the markets opened.
LogicBio is in the early stages of developing therapies designed to replace dysfunctional genes with healthy ones in several rare diseases. Although Alexion’s commercial drugs are mostly protein infusions and injections, and not gene therapies, LogicBio’s rare disease focus fits squarely in Alexion’s wheelhouse.
AstraZeneca previously acquired Alexion in a $39 billion deal announced in late 2020. The LogicBio acquisition, although comparably small, gives AstraZeneca a foothold in the hot gene therapy field, where one-time treatments for rare and devastating conditions are carrying price tags of up to $3 million.
LogicBio was valued at about $600 million soon after the company went public in 2018. But like many other small and early-stage biotechs, the company’s value has suffered massive losses over the past 20 months as part of a biotech stock slump. Before Monday, LogicBio’s stock had fallen more than 98 percent since its 2018 peak.
Many investors have wondered if larger drug companies will take advantage of the bargain basement pricing of biotechs that are down 90 percent or more from recent highs just two years ago. The LogicBio acquisition is potentially a sign of more dealmaking to come, although mergers and acquisitions are notably low in the pharmaceuticals sector this year.
LogicBio’s most advanced program is a therapy designed to provide infants and children a healthy copy of a gene that, when broken, causes a severe metabolic disorder called methylmalonic acidemia, which affects about 1 in 50,000 newborns in the United States.
The inability to fully break down certain fats and proteins causes toxic byproducts to accumulate in the body of affected infants, which leads to vomiting, tiredness, weak muscles, and potential intellectual disability, coma, and death. There is no approved therapy for the disease.
The Food and Drug Administration put LogicBio’s clinical trial for the disease on hold in February after the third and fourth patients in the study developed a condition called thrombotic microangiopathy — where the sudden destruction of red blood cells can cause tiny blood clots and potentially damage organs. The company said the condition “resolved within weeks,” and the FDA lifted the hold on the trial in May.
Alexion is headquartered in Boston’s Seaport District, but plans to move into AstraZeneca’s new research center in Cambridge’s Kendall Square once it is finished in early 2026.
LogicBio has about 40 employees, one-third fewer than the 62 it had at the beginning of the year.