Roche is set to pay $4.3bn for the acquisition of Spark Therapeutics, a gene therapy company that will put the pharma giant ahead in one of the biggest growing markets around. The merger has already been approved by both companies’ boards, and will see Spark continue to exist as an independent company within Roche after it ends.

Gene therapies promise cures for difficult-to-treat inherited diseases, and are one-time treatments. As such they come with a high cost, often costing upwards of $1m. Because of this some companies, including Spark, are exploring alternative payments such as pay-for-performance programs.  

Such gene therapy products have already been sought out by Roche’s rivals Novartis, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson. Roche, on the other hand, is focusing specifically on haemophilia A gene treatments, in line with its own Hemlibra product. The leading Spark gene therapy candidate SPK-8011 could give Roche a diversified strong candidate in the field, and is thought to be entering phase 3 testing later in 2019.