Novartis has announced it has acquired AveXis for $8.7bn, paying it $218 per share, that is a 88% premium over the company’s closing price on Friday ($115.9). AveXis focuses on gene therapies for the treatment of spinal muscular atrophy and other neurological disorders, such as SMA, Rett syndrome and genetic ALS. AveXis is not marketing any product yet. Its main asset is AVXS-101, which has recently obtained the Orphan Drug designation by FDA for the treatment of SMA, and the Breakthrough Therapy and Fast Track designation for type-1 SMA. AveXis is headquartered in Chicago and has 220 employees. It lost $83m in 2016. This deal follows the $3.9bn acquisition last October — shortly after Mr Narasimhan’s appointment was announced — of Advanced Accelerator Applications, the French nuclear medicines business expert.