Boehringer Ingelheim sharpens retinal strategy, scooping up dry AMD drug from a Swiss team behind Novartis' Beovu
Boehringer Ingelheim has inked a second deal for retinal diseases in a year — and this time it’s specific about which ailment to target.
In a deal worth up to $490 million (CHF 474.5 million), the German pharma has locked in an antibody fragment-based drug for geographic atrophy from Zurich, Switzerland-based CDR-Life. Boehringer also gets a license to develop and commercialize other compounds against the specific target.
Perhaps better known as advanced dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD), GA can result in the irreversible loss of retina and lead to blindness. Unlike wet AMD — often a more serious, though not mutually exclusive, form of the disease often treated by anti-VEGF drugs — there are no approved treatments for the indication.
A number of players are looking to change that. Apellis Pharma has posted positive Phase II data for a C3 inhibitor, and Biogen has bet on a similar approach at Catalyst Bio. Gyroscope, J&J, and Biophytis have also entered the race with new approaches including cell and gene therapies.
CDR-Life has a track record going for it, noted Clive Wood, Boehringer’s head of discovery research. Christian Leisner, the co-founder and CEO, managed trials for Novartis’ new wet AMD drug Beovu as a senior clinical leader and brought several drug developers with him to the new venture. Both CSO Leonardo Borras and Rouven Bingel-Erlenmeyer, the head of technical development, had stints at the pharma giant following long careers at ESBATech.
Zooming out to the broad spectrum of retinal diseases, Boehringer said it’s built a portfolio of next-generation therapy approaches in various stages of development up to Phase II, including diabetic retinal diseases.
Last September it looped in Inflammasome Therapeutics to add a new drug delivery tech that turns drugs into a long-acting, biodegradable gel formulation.