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Sarepta to buy Myonexus for $165 mln in gene therapy push

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Feb 27 (Reuters) - Sarepta Therapeutics Inc said on Wednesday it would buy privately held gene therapy company Myonexus Therapeutics Inc for $165 million, moving deeper into an emerging and lucrative field within the biotech sector.

The deal comes close on the heels of Roche agreeing to buy gene therapy specialist Spark Therapeutics for $4.3 billion.

Gene therapies use specially engineered viruses, or viral vectors, to deliver genetic material into defective cells, in hopes of improving or potentially even curing an inherited condition.

The Myonexus deal will help Sarepta tap into a market where treatments for rare, inherited diseases command some of the highest prices in medicine.

Sarepta and Myonexus had entered into an exclusive partnership last May to develop Myonexus' five gene therapy candidates for treating different forms of limb-girdle muscular dystrophy (LGMD), a group of muscle-wasting disorders.

As part of the deal, Sarepta had an exclusive option to acquire Myonexus.

The company would be holding a call later on Wednesday to present data from three patients for Myonexus' drug in patients with LGMD2E, Sarepta said.

"We are excited to acquire Myonexus, which will allow us to move rapidly to find solutions for LGMD patients and continue to build out and validate our gene therapy engine," Sarepta Chief Executive Officer Doug Ingram said in a statement. (Reporting by Saumya Sibi Joseph and Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)