* Gets Phase II drug for eye disorder in premature babies
* Financial terms of Swedish acquisition not disclosed
LONDON, March 12 Shire increased its
investment in rare diseases on Tuesday by acquiring privately
held Swedish biotech firm Premacure, which is developing a drug
for a potentially blinding eye disorder in premature babies.
Britain's third biggest drugmaker did not reveal how much it
was paying for the Uppsala-based business but said it would pay
a sum upfront followed by contingent payments based on clinical
development and commercial success.
The acquisition takes Shire into the new area of neonatology
- the treatment of sick or premature newborn infants - and
expands its already substantial presence in rare diseases.
Treating diseases that affect only a small number of
patients is a growing focus for many drug companies given the
high prices that can be achieved.
Premacure, which was launched in 2006, has an experimental
protein replacement medicine in mid-stage Phase II clinical
development for the prevention of retinopathy of prematurity
Normal full-term babies produce enough growth factors on
their own to prevent diseases like ROP. But those born before 31
weeks may lack chemicals such as insulin-like growth factor 1
(IGF-1), which can result in life-long complications like ROP.
Shire said its human genetic therapies unit would continue
with the Phase II study, the primary goal of which is to restore
the IGF-1 levels in premature infants to those found in babies
born at full term.