Allergan plc (NYSE: AGN) just purchased privately-held RetroSense Therapeutics LLC for $60 million in an all-cash transaction, with potential regulatory and commercialization milestone payments. Based in Ann Arbor Michigan, RetroSense is a clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on novel gene therapy approaches to restore vision in those suffering from blindness. Its lead development program, RST-001, is a novel gene therapy for the potential treatment of Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP).
The acquisition gives Allergan global rights to RetroSense’s lead product candidate, RST-001. In 2014, RST-001 received Orphan Drug Designation by the U.S. FDA for the treatment of Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). In August 2015, RetroSense’s Investigational New Drug (IND) application for RST-001 received clearance from the U.S. FDA. In March 2016, RetroSense initiated a Phase I/IIa clinical trial to evaluate the safety of RST-001 in patients being dosed, and in August 2016, the low dose cohort of patients had been safely dosed.
Prior to being bought out, RetroSense was busy building up its optogenetics platform. Just five days prior to its purchase by Allergan, RetroSense purchased the exclusive rights to the University of California San Diego’s red activatable channelrhodopsin (ReaChR), a next-generation optogene. In November of 2014, RetroSense entered into an agreement with Massachusetts General Hospital for the exclusive, worldwide rights to its patent application for intellectual property in optogenetics for vision restoration. This acquisition expanded RetroSense’s intellectual property in the field of optogenetics as RST-001 was getting ready to enroll in clinical trials. RetroSense had previously acquired similar rights from Wayne State University.
This acquisition marks Allergan’s sixth purchase of the year, and its second acquisition of a clinical-stage company focused on eye diseases. On August 11, Allergan announced its purchase of California-based, privately-held ForSight VISION5. ForSight VISION5 focuses on developing non-invasive drug delivery products that replace eye drops and provide sustained therapy for major eye disease, such as glaucoma, dry eye and allergies. Its lead product is a peri-optical ring product candidate, a novel, non-invasive delivery system designed to allow glaucoma and ocular hypertensive patients to receive medication continually. ForSight VISION5 sold for $95 million, with potential milestone payments.