MSD has announced a definitive agreement to acquire all outstanding shares of Eyebiotech (EyeBio) through a subsidiary for up to $3bn.

The deal value includes an upfront cash payment of $1.3bn and $1.7bn in milestone payments on meeting developmental, regulatory and commercial goals.

The board of directors of EyeBio approved the deal, which will bolster MSD’s ophthalmology offerings.

Specialising in ophthalmology, EyeBio has a pipeline of clinical and preclinical assets focusing on preventing and treating vision loss from retinal vascular leakage.

Restoret (EYE103), its lead candidate, is a tri-specific antibody targeting the Wnt signalling pathway.

This asset has potential applications in diabetic macular oedema (DME) and neovascular age-related macular degeneration (NVAMD).

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Administered as an intravitreal injection, Restoret aims to restore the blood-retinal barrier by activating the Wnt pathway.

Following positive results from the Phase Ib/IIa AMARONE study in patients with DME and NVAMD, Restoret is expected to enter a Phase IIb/III trial for DME treatment in the second half of 2024.

EyeBio’s founders Dr David Guyer and Dr Tony Adamis will join MSD, bringing their expertise to further the development of Restoret and other projects.

The deal is expected to conclude in the third quarter of 2024.

EyeBio CEO and president Dr David Guyer stated: “The EyeBio team has successfully assembled a pipeline of novel candidates with the potential to provide new treatment options for patients with retinal disease.

“As a subsidiary of Merck [MSD], 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.”

In March 2024, the European Commission approved MSD’s KEYTRUDA regimen for resectable non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients at increased recurrence risk.