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AstraZeneca said Friday it will buy up a group of early-stage gene therapies from Pfizer, bucking a trend of drugmakers axing programs and exiting a field that had once captured the imagination — and checkbooks — of many pharmaceutical executives.

AstraZeneca will pay Pfizer up to $1 billion plus royalties for the portfolio of treatments, none of which has entered clinical trials yet. The companies did not say how much it is paying upfront.


The moves come six months after Pfizer said it would stop much of its work on early-stage gene therapy programs, in which researchers try to deliver replacement genes encased in small, non-pathogenic bugs called adeno-associated viruses, or AAVs. Instead, it would focus on newer technologies, such as gene editing.

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