Specialty biopharmaceutical Shire has agreed to acquire US-based privately held Foresight Biotherapeutics for around $300m.

Under the deal, Shire will acquire global rights of Foresight’s FST-100, a therapy in late-stage development to treat infectious conjunctivitis, an ocular surface condition commonly referred to as pink eye.

FST-100 is a topical ophthalmic solution combining 0.6% povidone iodine (PVP-I) and 0.1% dexamethasone.

Shire CEO Flemming Ornskov said: “With the acquisition of Foresight Biotherapeutics, Shire demonstrates its commitment to eye care while advancing its strategy of addressing high unmet medical need through transformative treatments for rare diseases and specialty medicines.”

FST-100 will be the first agent to treat both viral and bacterial conjunctivitis, if cleared by regulatory agencies.

The Phase II proof-of-concept efficacy and safety clinical trial programme for FST-100 comprised two studies in adenoviral conjunctivitis, including one three-arm study and another two-arm pilot study.

“FST-100 will be the first agent to treat both viral and bacterial conjunctivitis, if cleared by regulatory agencies.”

According to Shire, the two-arm study demonstrated a trend toward efficacy and there were few subjects testing positive for a viral presence for the study.

In the three-arm study, patients have been randomised to receive FST-100, PVP-I or vehicle four times daily for five days. Patients treated with FST-100 demonstrated a statistically significant improvement in rates of clinical cure and viral eradication compared with vehicle in the study.

The Phase II clinical data will serve as basis to carry out Phase III clinical development programme for FST-100 as a potential treatment for adenoviral conjunctivitis.

Once the deal concludes, Shire will involve in the final development and implementation of the Phase III clinical programme for FST-100 to also include investigation to treat bacterial conjunctivitis.

Image: Shire location in Lexington Massachusetts. Photo: courtesy of John Phelan.