Merck & Co Buys Into KalVista For $760 Million For Diabetic Eye Disease

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Merck & Co, just partnered with Kalvista for its plasma Kallikrien inhibitors. Merck is set to pay $37 million upfront for an option to purchase KalVista’s program in diabetic macular edema, a buildup of fluid in the eye can result in loss of sight, and has also agreed to give up to $715 million in milestones also including royalties if it leads to a commercial product. It’s also paying $9 million for a 9.9% stake in the biotech company.

The main product is KVD001, which KalVista has mentioned it cleared a phase 1 study and is set to begin phase 3 proof-of-concept testing later in 2017. However, Merck is also taking an option to follow-up compounds that could potentially be administered orally.

This also is a boost for the Anglo-American biotech that operates in Massachusetts and the U.K as it provides a partner that has the ability to access capital for the DME. It will also help provide free resources at a later time for its oral plasma kallikrein inhibitor program in hereditary angioedema, spearheaded by KVD818 which is on pace for the end of its first phase 1 trial.

“Plasma kallikrein inhibition is a novel approach to the treatment of DME that we believe may offer benefit to a significant number of patients, and an oral therapy particularly would represent a ground-breaking advance for treatment of this indication,” stated KalVista CEO Andrew Crockett.

“We have always believed that development and commercialization of our DME therapies would require the resources of a large pharmaceutical company,” he continued.

The deal gives KalVista a partner with a strong presence in diabetes through drugs like DPP4 inhibitors Januvia (sitagliptin) and Janumet (sitagliptin/metformin), and could help add that portfolio shortly with Pfizer-partnered SGLT2 inhibitor ertugliflozin, which was filed back in May in the U.S. and Europe.

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