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12:00 AM
Oct 20, 2008
 |  BioCentury  |  Strategy

Shire's ophthalmics play

If recent deals and investments in the ophthalmics space are any indication, Shire Ltd. should have several options for monetizing the ophthalmology assets it picked up in its 328 million acquisition of Jerini AG this summer. The German biotech's Jerini Ophthalmic Inc. subsidiary is developing early stage compounds to treat dry age-related macular degeneration, arguably the largest unmet need in the ophthalmic space and thus an attractive indication for investors and partners alike.

Since January 2007, the ophthalmics area has seen over $370 million in venture financing, and investors believe the sector is ripe for growth due to an aging population and limited therapeutic options. The space also has witnessed over 40 deals during the same period (see BioCentury, Sept. 29).

Despite the renewed interest in ophthalmics, Shire spokesperson Jessica Catrone said the disease area does not fit the company's focus on late-stage compounds to treat rare diseases. In this case, the Jerini acquisition provided Firazyr icatibant, a selective peptidomimetic bradykinin B2 receptor antagonist that is approved in the EU for hereditary angioedema.

Jerini Ophthalmic's lead compound is JSM-6427, an alpha(5)beta(1) integrin receptor antagonist that is in Phase I testing to treat wet AMD, with future plans to test the compound to prevent the...

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