Alcon to acquire Swiss biotechnology business

September 15, 2009

The news broke at today's show that Alcon is to gain access to proprietary antibody fragment technology particularly suited to treat eye diseases with its plan to acquire ESBATech AG, a Swiss biotechnology firm.

The news broke at today's show that Alcon is to gain access to proprietary antibody fragment technology particularly suited to treat eye diseases with its plan to acquire ESBATech AG, a Swiss biotechnology firm.

ESBATech is a clinical-stage biotechnology company that has been developing a pipeline of proprietary single-chain antibody fragment therapeutics for topical and local delivery for safe and convenient therapy. “Biotechnology offers significant growth opportunities in ophthalmology because it has the potential to deliver therapies with superior efficacy and safety relative to existing approaches,” said Sabri Markabi, MD, Alcon's senior vice president of research and development and chief medical officer. “Combining ESBATech's proprietary antibody fragment technology with our expertise in ophthalmic formulation and capabilities in global development will strengthen Alcon's leadership position in ophthalmology.”

ESBATech has advanced its antibody fragment technology to preclinical and clinical stages in the eye for various diseases. The company has several stable and soluble single-chain antibody fragments in development, with its most advanced product candidate progressed into Phase I and II studies relating to the treatment of inflammatory ocular diseases.

The agreement to acquire ESBATech includes all rights to its technology for therapeutic application to the eye, including age-related macular degeneration, diabetic macular edema, glaucoma, dry eye and uveitis.

“This acquisition is part of our ongoing strategy to enhance access to multiple sources of technologies and compounds that bolster our total research platform in support of innovative products to treat eye disease,” said Kevin Buehler, Alcon's president and chief executive officer. “We welcome Dr. Escher and his highly-qualified team of biotechnology experts who will become the foundation of Alcon's biologics capability in the future.”

As confirmation of the strategy to enhance the Alcon research platform, this biologics capability acquisition comes on the heels of Alcon's recent announcement of an agreement with AstraZeneca that pairs Alcon's ophthalmic research capability with AstraZeneca's rich drug libraries in a collaborative effort to treat eye diseases. The ESBATech acquisition expands Alcon's research capability outside of small molecules to the promising field of proteins, antibodies and other large molecules.