Ophthalmology acquisition to advance tri-specific antibody

A novel late-phase clinical candidate for diabetic macular edema and neovascular age-related macular degeneration will be developed as part of the proposed agreement.

acquisition Eyebio

Merck (known as MSD outside of the US and Canada) plans to acquire Eyebiotech Limited, with the aim to advance development of novel treatments for vision disorders. The deal has a potential value of $3 billion. Under the terms of the acquisition, Merck, through a subsidiary, will acquire all outstanding shares of EyeBio. The total sum comprises of a $1.3 billion upfront payment and up to $1.7 billion in future milestone payments.

the acquisition significantly expands Merck/MSD’s presence in ophthalmology”

In addition to augmenting MSD’s pipeline, this new acquisition “significantly expands” its presence in ophthalmology, the company noted. 

EyeBio highlighted that its pipeline consists of drug candidates being developed to prevent and treat vision loss associated with retinal vascular leakage.

A promising biologic

EyeBio’s lead candidate, Restoret™ (EYE103), is an investigational, potentially first-in-class tetravalent, tri-specific antibody. The medicine works “as an agonist of the Wingless-related integration site (Wnt) signalling pathway”, the company stated.

Restoret is given via an intravitreal injection, with the aim to restore and preserve the blood-retinal barrier in the eye.

The treatment is expected to advance into a pivotal Phase IIb/III trial in diabetic macular edema in the second half of 2024. This is based on positive results from the Phase Ib/IIa AMARONE study in diabetic macular edema (DME) and neovascular age-related macular degeneration (NVAMD).

Advancing the acquisition

“By combining our strengths, we aim to advance with rigor and speed the development of their promising pipeline of candidates targeting retinal diseases,” stated Dr Dean Li, President, Merck Research Laboratories.

“As a subsidiary of Merck, EyeBio will be positioned to tap into the resources and infrastructure needed to support the clinical, regulatory and commercial development of these candidates and help bring them to patients worldwide,” Dr David Guyer, Chief Executive Officer and President, EyeBio explained.

The proposed acquisition of EyeBio will close subject to certain approval and other customary conditions. MSD anticipated that the deal will be completed in the third quarter of 2024.