US-based Tracon Pharmaceuticals has entered into an exclusive agreement with Japan-based Santen Pharmaceutical for the development and global commercialisation of its anti-endoglin antibodies, including TRC105, in ophthalmology.

Tracon is currently carrying out development of TRC105 in combination with anti-VEGF products in oncology.

The pre-clinical and clinical data from the ongoing development of TRC105 shows that inhibiting both the endoglin and VEGF pathways has the potential to show advantages over inhibiting VEGF alone in treating conditions such as wet age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD).

As part of the deal, Santen will make an upfront payment of $10m and certain milestone payments to Tracon in the development phase as well as pay commercialisation milestones and tiered royalties on global sales of TRC105 in ophthalmology.

"TRC105 has the potential to help patients suffering from serious eye diseases who do not benefit from treatments currently available."

Santen will be responsible for funding 100% of all global development and commercialisation activities, including the start of IND-enabling studies.

Under the deal, Tracon will continue the ongoing Phase II development of TRC105 in a number of oncology indications, as well as retain global rights on applications of its anti-endoglin antibody portfolio outside of ophthalmology.

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Tracon president and CEO Charles Theuer said TRC105 has the potential to help patients suffering from serious eye diseases who do not benefit from treatments currently available.

"The experience Tracon has gained in the development of TRC105 in oncology, by combining TRC105 with bevacizumab and other inhibitors of the VEGF pathway, reinforces our belief that development of TRC105 in serious angiogenesis-driven eye diseases is an outstanding product development opportunity," Theuer added.

The TRC105 oncology development programme includes two ongoing randomised Phase IIb trials with bevacizumab in renal cell carcinoma and glioblastoma, and combination studies with axitinib in renal cell carcinoma, with pazopanib in advanced soft tissue sarcoma and with sorafenib in hepatocellular carcinoma.

Santen president and CEO Akira Kurokawa said: "Currently, treatment options for retinal disease, including wet AMD are limited. Santen is pleased to gain access to novel compounds such as TRC105, so that Santen can contribute to improving the quality of life of patients suffering from retinal disease such as wet AMD."