ForSight VISION4, a privately held biotechnology company revolutionizing drug delivery for treatment of retinal diseases, was recently acquired by Roche Holdings Inc.
The company is the fourth venture created by the Menlo Park incubator, ForSight Labs, LLC, and was funded entirely by two of the leading venture capital firms in Silicon Valley, Morgenthaler Ventures and Versant Ventures.
The acquisition expands Roche’s exclusive access to the ForSight VISION4 PDS technology for long acting delivery of therapeutics to the eye. In 2010, ForSight VISION4, Inc. announced a Collaboration and License Agreement with Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, for exclusive rights to use ForSight VISION4’s proprietary drug delivery technology for the target VEGF-A.
“This transaction marks the successful culmination of an early and ongoing collaboration between the ForSight VISION4 team and the team at Genentech, and puts the PDS technology on a path to revolutionize retinal therapies for patients worldwide,” said K. Angela Macfarlane, President and CEO of ForSight VISION4, Inc. “We believe that Roche, a leader in ophthalmic drug development, is the ideal partner to drive the further development of the PDS.”
The PDS is a durable intravitreal implant that is placed through a scleral incision in a one-time surgical procedure. It is then refilled using a proprietary refill needle by a physician in an office setting. The ranibizumab PDS is currently in a Phase II study, the “LADDER” Study (NCT02510794) sponsored by Genentech to define the duration of drug delivery possible with the PDS technology.
ForSight VISION4 has developed the PDS to facilitate a wide array of molecules and therapeutic payloads, including delivery of small molecules that typically have a short retention time inside the eye. The acquisition by Roche provides the opportunity for the PDS technology to be applied broadly to other molecules in the Roche pipeline as an approach for extending the duration between treatments for intravitreally injected drugs.
Retinal vascular diseases, such as neovascular age-related macular degeneration and diabetic eye disease, are leading causes of vision loss in both working-aged and elderly people. Today, the most common treatment for these sight-threatening diseases is intraocular injections of Anti-VEGF drugs. The intensity of treatment can place a burden on patients, their caregivers and physicians, and recent studies have shown that under-treatment may lead to significant, unrecoverable vision loss1. Technologies that could extend the duration between treatments could offer a significant benefit to patients by reducing the burden of treatment and leading to better vision outcomes.
“In 2005, I witnessed the presentation at the American Society of Retina Specialists meeting of the dramatic visual improvements from monthly injections of LUCENTIS for choroidal neovascularization associated with AMD which profoundly changed ophthalmology,” commented Eugene De Juan, Jr. MD, Founder of ForSight VISION4, Inc., “The ForSight VISION4 PDS was developed specifically to continue to enhance the treatment of patients with retinal diseases. I am very appreciative that Roche is again leading the way to improving these patients lives.”
Under the terms of the agreement, Roche has acquired ForSight VISION4 for an upfront payment and additional earn out payments related to development and commercial milestones.
Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, P.C. provided legal services to ForSight VISION 4, Inc. in connection with the transaction.