Merck adds ophthalmology assets with $1.3bn EyeBio buy

The acquisition of Eyebiotech will see Merck & Co. add a preclinical pipeline targeting retinal diseases including its lead candidate, Restoret (EYE103).

Millie Nelson, Editor

May 29, 2024

2 Min Read

Merck (known as MSD outside North America) will acquire all outstanding shares of ophthalmology-focused biotech firm EyeBio. This includes an upfront cash payment of $1.3 billion and an additional potential $1.7 billion in developmental, regulatory, and commercial milestone payments.

Under the terms of the deal, Merck will gain a pipeline of vision loss candidates from EyeBio, which came onto the biotech scene just three years ago. This includes the firm’s lead candidate, Restoret, which came from regenerative medicines company AntlerA Therapeutics.  The investigational tri-specific antibody works by acting as an agonist of the Wingless-related integration site (Wnt) signaling pathway and is set to enter a Phase IIb/III study in patients with diabetic macular edema (DME) in the second half of this year.

“We continue to execute on our science-led business development strategy to expand and diversify our pipeline,” said Dean Li, president, Merck Research Laboratories.
“The EyeBio team, under the leadership of David Guyer and Tony Adamis, has a strong track record of developing groundbreaking ophthalmology therapies. By combining our strengths, we aim to advance with rigor and speed the development of their promising pipeline of candidates targeting retinal diseases.”

In addition to expanding Merck’s pipeline, the firm said it also “significantly” increases its presence in the ophthalmology space. Furthermore, EyeBio’s team will continue to progress the clinical advancement of Restoret and its other development programs. 

“Less than three years ago, EyeBio was hatched to translate David Guyer’s idea for a potential new therapy for retinal diseases into a reality. This agreement reflects the hard work of the talented EyeBio team, led by Guyer, who through this agreement have placed Restoret on a defined development path to patients,” said Kate Bingham, EyeBio board chair and managing partner, SV Health Investors.

The proposed acquisition is subject to approval but is anticipated to close in the third quarter of this year.

About the Author(s)

Millie Nelson

Editor, BioProcess Insider

Journalist covering global biopharmaceutical manufacturing and processing news and host of the Voices of Biotech podcast.

I am currently living and working in London but I grew up in Lincolnshire (UK) and studied in Newcastle (UK).

Got a story? Feel free to email me at [email protected]

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