Ocular Therapeutix (OCUL), Regeneron (REGN) Enter Aflibercept Development Collaboration for Wet AMD
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Ocular Therapeutix, Inc. (Nasdaq: OCUL) announced that it has entered into a strategic collaboration, option and license agreement with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq: REGN). Ocular and Regeneron will collaborate on the development of a sustained release formulation of the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) trap aflibercept for the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD) and other serious retinal diseases. This formulation is currently in preclinical development. Regeneron’s aflibercept is currently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for certain indications under the brand name EYLEA®.
Ocular Therapeutix is currently developing proprietary sustained-release hydrogel-based drug delivery depots for intravitreal injection that can be formulated with both small and large molecule pharmaceuticals, such as tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) and protein-based anti-VEGFs, respectively, with the goal of delivering sustained and therapeutic levels of drugs to targeted ocular tissues.
Under the terms of the agreement, Ocular Therapeutix and Regeneron will aim to develop a sustained release formulation of aflibercept that is suitable for advancement into clinical development. Regeneron has the option to obtain an exclusive license to use Ocular Therapeutix’s hydrogel-based technology for the development and commercialization of a sustained release formulation of aflibercept and other biologics targeting VEGF for ophthalmic indications. Ocular Therapeutix will retain all rights to develop its sustained-release hydrogel-based drug delivery platform with all other non-VEGF targeting compounds as well as with small molecule pharmaceuticals, including TKIs, for other retinal diseases.
Upon exercising of the option, Ocular Therapeutix would receive a payment of $10 million from Regeneron and Ocular Therapeutix would be responsible for funding development through Phase 1. Regeneron would be responsible for any subsequent development and commercialization costs. Ocular Therapeutix would be eligible to receive up to $305 million in milestone payments from Regeneron for a sustained release version of aflibercept containing Ocular Therapeutix’s sustained release hydrogel depot, comprised of up to $155 million in development and regulatory milestone payments, $100 million for the first commercial sale and up to $50 million in commercial milestone payments. In addition, Ocular Therapeutix is eligible to receive tiered high single-digit to low-to-mid teen-digit royalties on potential future net sales.
“We have made considerable progress in developing our protein drug delivery platform at Ocular Therapeutix, so it is good to see an industry leader such as Regeneron recognizing the potential of this technology,” said Amar Sawhney, Ph.D., President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Ocular Therapeutix. “We are excited to partner with Regeneron to develop a potential first-in-class sustained release protein-based anti-VEGF hydrogel injection for wet AMD, DME, RVO, and other serious retinal diseases. This sustained release formulation could have the potential to significantly reduce dosing frequency and subsequently reduce doctor visits, thus reducing the burden of care for patients, caregivers and physicians, and may decrease the likelihood of certain side effects associated with frequent intravitreal injections.”
About Wet AMD and Other VEGF-Associated Retinal Diseases
Wet age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD) is characterized by loss of vision caused by degeneration of the central portion of the retina. Abnormal growth of blood vessels below the retina, and the leakage of fluid and protein from the vessels, causes retinal degeneration and can lead to severe and rapid loss of vision. Wet AMD is the leading cause of blindness in individuals aged 50 years or older.
Retinal vein occlusion (RVO) is a sight-threatening disorder resulting from the blockage of one of the veins carrying blood out of the retina. In RVO, the blockage of a retinal vein can lead to poor blood circulation, low oxygen and sometimes inflammation in the eye. A blocked vein will leak its contents of blood and fluid. Bleeding within the retina and swelling from the fluid can result in macular edema.
Diabetic macular edema (DME) is a complication of diabetes caused by fluid accumulation in the macula, or central portion of the eye. When the macula begins to fill with fluid, the ability of those cells to sense light is impaired, causing blurred vision that can be severe. Diabetic macular edema affects up to 30% of people who have had diabetes for 20 years or more, and if untreated, 20 to 30% of people who have it will experience moderate visual loss.
The global market for anti-VEGF drugs is over $7.5 billion.
Conference Call & Webcast Information
Members of the Ocular Therapeutix management team will host a live conference call and webcast today at 8:30 am Eastern Time to discuss the collaboration with Regeneron as well as other recent progress from the Company's intravitreal depot development programs.
The live webcast and accompanying slide presentation can be accessed by visiting the investor section of the Company’s website at investors.ocutx.com. Please connect at least 15 minutes prior to the live webcast to ensure adequate time for any software download that may be needed to access the webcast. Alternatively, please call 844-464-3934 (U.S.) or 765-507-2620 (International) to listen to the conference call. The conference ID number for the live call will be 98223266. An archive of the webcast will be available until October 27, 2016 on the Company’s website.
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