Partnering to improve vision

Credit: Andrey Volodin / Alamy Stock Photo

With the help of DealForma, in this data page we look at recent deals (Table 1) and mergers and acquisitions (M&As) (Table 2) made in the ophthalmology field, providing details of those with high values. During the past 5 years, more than 100 deals have been signed to target ophthalmic diseases, and more than half of these were made at the platform/discovery stage (Fig. 1), illustrating the push for new therapies in this area. Since the US Food and Drug Administration approved Spark Therapeutics’ Luxturna (voretigene neparvovec) for a rare type of inherited blindness in 2017, more companies are exploring gene therapy approaches to treat ophthalmic diseases, including Roche, which acquired Spark in 2019, and Biogen, which acquired Nightstar Therapeutics soon after (Table 2). Nucleic acid-based therapies are also being pursued, illustrated by Alnylam’s $1 billion deal with Regeneron—the highest value deal in recent years—to develop RNAi therapeutics in April 2019 and Ionis’ pact with Roche on an antisense oligonucleotide candidate a year earlier (Table 1).

Table 1 | Selected high-value deals in ophthalmology from 2017–2021

Companies 1 and 2


Total deal value (upfront payment) ($ million)

Deal headline

Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals

April 2019

1,035 (800)

Alnylam partners with Regeneron for the development of RNAi therapeutics for neurologic and ophthalmic diseases.

KalVista Pharmaceuticals, Merck & Co.

October 2017

761 (37)

KalVista signs option deal with Merck for KVD‑001, a plasma kallikrein inhibitor in development for the treatment of diabetic macular edema.

Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Roche

October 2018

760 (75)

Ionis agrees to collaborate with Roche on the clinical development of its antisense oligonucleotide drug targeting factor B, IONIS-FB-LRx, including a phase 2 study for the treatment of geographic atrophy, a late stage of dry AMD.

Parion Sciences, Shire (Takeda)

May 2017

535 (20)

Parion partners with Shire in collaborative license deal for P-321, an ENaC inhibitor for dry eye disease.

CDR-Life, Boehringer Ingelheim

May 2020

487 (n/a)

CDR-Life joins forces with Boehringer for the development of CDR-Life’s antibody fragment-based therapeutics targeting geographic atrophy.

MeiraGTx Holding, Janssen Pharmaceuticals

January 2019

340 (100)

MeiraGTx partners with Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) on the development of gene therapies for inherited retinal diseases.

Catalyst Biosciences, Biogen (formerly Biogen Idec)

December 2019

355 (15)

Catalyst partners with Biogen to develop and commercialize pegylated CB 2782, a complement factor C3-inactivating protease, for the treatment of geographic atrophy.

Santen Pharmaceutical, jCyte

May 2020

190 (62)

Santen signs development and commercialization deal with jCyte for jCell, a phase 2 cell therapy candidate for retinitis pigmentosa.

Halozyme Therapeutics, Horizon Therapeutics

November 2020

190 (30)

Horizon Therapeutics signs deal with Halozyme to license their ENHANZE drug delivery technology to enable the subcutaneous formulation of Tepezza (teprotumumab), a monoclonal antibody against IGF-1R that is approved for thyroid eye disease.

Fig. 1 | Number of ophthalmology deals by stage of development from 2017–2021.

Table 2 | Selected high-value M&As in ophthalmology from 2017–2021




Value ($ million)

February 2019


Spark Therapeutics


March 2019


Nightstar Therapeutics


March 2019

Alcon (Novartis)



doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/d43747-021-00062-6

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