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Allergan licenses drug for treatment of eye diseases

The medical firm will pay Molecular Partners up to $420 million through the agreement.

By Kristen SchottPublished: May 04, 2011 03:11 PM

Irvine-based Allergan is paying up to $420 million to license an experimental protein from Switzerland's Molecular Partners for the treatment of retinal conditions.

MP0112 works by stopping a protein called vascular endothelial growth factor; in normal circumstances, it creates new blood vessels, but it can contribute to diseases of the eye when it is overexpressed. The drug is currently being developed for treating wet age-related macular degeneration and diabetic macular edema.

Under the agreement, Allergan will maintain exclusive global rights for the product for ophthalmic uses. The companies will work together during certain phase-two developments, though Allergan will be accountable for phase-three trials and commercialization.

Allergan will make an up-front payment of $45 million to Molecular Partners, as well as fees of up to $375 million if certain requirements are met.

“This agreement aligns with Allergan’s strategy to become a leader in developing new treatments for retinal disease," said Scott M. Whitcup, M.D., executive vice president and chief scientific officer of Allergan. "The goal of this program is to develop a potentially more effective treatment for diseases like neovascular age-related macular degeneration with the possibility for less frequent intravitreal injections.”

Allergan is a health-care firm specializing in ophthalmology, neurosciences, medical aesthetics and dermatology, breast aesthetics, obesity intervention and urologics. Molecular Partners is a privately held biotech firm that researches, manufactures and markets biological drugs known as DARPins.

"This is a transformational deal for Molecular Partners, and Allergan is the ideal partner for MP0112 to build the most value out of our lead product," said Christian Zahnd, Ph.D., CEO of Molecular Partners.

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