Pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) is paying approximately $37 million for an upfront option to acquire a program Kalvista Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:KALV) has for the treatment of DME – diabetic macular edema. This is a condition where fluid accumulates in the eye potentially causing loss of sight. Merck has also agreed to offer amounts totaling $715 million in milestone payments as well as royalties in the event that the program leads to the development of a commercial product.
Additionally Merck will also acquire a 9.9% interest in the biotechnology firm. With KVD001 being the deal’s main focus, KalVista has revealed that phase 1 study has been completed and phase 2 trials are set to begin later in the year. It is understood that Merck is taking the option to test the compounds that can could be used to administer the potential treatment orally.
Kallikrein inhibitor program
KalVitsa will benefit greatly from the deal with Merck as it will get resources which will become necessary down the line with regards to its kallikrein inhibitor program that aims to find a treatment for hereditary angioedema.
“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,” the chief executive officer of KalVista, Andrew Crockett, said.
KalVista will also benefit from a partner who has many years of experience in the development of drugs used to treat diabetes such as Janumet and Januvia. It is expected that KalVista could add to its portfolio of DPP4 inhibitors with a SGLT2 inhibitor known as ertugliflozin which has been made in partnership with Pfizer.
KalVista will however be entering a market which is already populated by other kallikrein inhibitors such as Kalbitor, an injectable developed by Shire, which has been available since 2009. There are also other newer oral candidates which are expected to become available in the near future. One of these includes BioCryst which is currently in mid-stage trials.
On Wednesday shares of KalVista Pharmaceuticals Inc fell by 1.86% to close the day at $10.