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Orchard raises $150 million to expand after GSK gene therapy deal

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LONDON (Reuters) – Anglo-American biotech company Orchard Therapeutics has raised a further $150 million (117.7 million pounds) to fund its work in gene therapy, building on earlier fundraisings worth more than $140 million (109.8 million pounds).

The new financing comes four months after its acquisition of a portfolio of GlaxoSmithKline <GSK.L> rare disease medicines, including the gene therapy Strimvelis for ADA severe combined immune deficiency (ADA-SCID), or “bubble baby” disease.

Gene therapy is a hot area for drug research – highlighted by Novartis’s <NOVN.S> $8.7 billion (6.8 billion pounds) acquisition of AveXis in April – but products sold to Orchard are viewed as too niche for GSK as it refocuses its drug research under CEO Emma Walmsley.

Strimvelis has so far been used to treat just a handful of patients since its launch in Europe two years ago.

Orchard, which has previously said it would consider an initial public offering (IPO) as the company develops, said on Monday the latest financing had been led by Deerfield Management, with further money from new and existing investors.

Orchard was incorporated in September 2015 and is focused on ex-vivo gene therapy, in which stem cells are taken from the patient and genetically corrected outside of the body before being transplanted back.

(Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Keith Weir)

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