Johnson & Johnson has joined the ranks of Novartis and Pfizer in gene therapy having been granted licenses for three eye disease programs from Meiragtx for $100m as well as pledging to fund clinical development and commercialisation.

J&J is currently licensing candidates for two rental disorders: achromatopsia (ACHM) caused by mutations in CNGB3 or CNGA3 as well as X-linked retinitis pigments (XLRP) which is in phase I/II clinical trials.

In addition to the $100m payment, J&J’s pharmaceutical division Janssen is offering up to $340m in additional payments if the programs lead to market, as well as royalties on future sales and guaranteed funding of clinical trials

ACHM is a non-progressive condition involving partial or total absence of colour vision. XLRP is caused by mutations in the RPGR gene leading to progressive vision loss by the time patients reach 20-30 years old.

Today’s deal comes at a time in which gene therapies have finally made their way to U.S. markets as 2017 saw the FDA approve the first treatment to fix ‘faulty genes’ in a patients body – voretigene neparvovec (Luxturna) from Spark Therapeutics used to treat an ophthalmological eye disorder.

Mathai Mammen, global therapeutic area head at Janssen R&D, said: “This collaboration builds on Janssen’s long-standing heritage of addressing the unmet needs of patients around the world.

“Through this collaboration we look forward to deepening our expertise in gene therapy and leveraging our breath of research and development expertise to help bring forward new treatment options for people living with inherited retinal diseases.”