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Novartis is acquiring AveXis for $8.7 billion to strengthen its gene therapy unit, adding a promising but still experimental treatment targeting a fatal childhood disease.

AveXis, a small biotech based in a north Chicago suburb, is being purchased for $218 per share, or an 88 percent premium to Friday’s closing stock price, Novartis said.


The deal is Novartis’ second foray into gene therapy this year. In January, Novartis purchased ex-U.S. marketing rights to an approved one-time treatment for a form of childhood blindness from Spark Therapeutics.

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