Company dosed first patient in the Phase III evaluation of VEGF Trap-Eye in wet AMD.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals received a $20-million milestone fee from Bayer HealthCare. The payment was triggered by Regeneron dosing the first patient in its Phase III study of the VEGF Trap-Eye in the neovascular form of age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD).

In October, 2006, Bayer coughed up $75 million to partner with Regeneron on the global development of the VEGF Trap-Eye. The company thus also gained ex-U.S. commercialization rights to the drug. Regeneron stands to earn an additional $20 million related to the Phase III trial and $205 million in total milestone payments.

The VEGF Trap-Eye is a fully human, soluble VEGF receptor fusion protein that reportedly binds all forms of VEGF-A along with the related placental growth factor (PlGF). The VEGF Trap-Eye is a specific and highly potent blocker of these growth factors, according to the companies.

This late-stage trial will be a noninferiority comparison of the VEGF Trap-Eye and Genentech’s Lucentis. The randomized, double-masked evaluation is expected to enroll approximately 1,200 patients.

“Results of early-phase studies have shown that VEGF Trap-Eye has the potential to be an important addition to the treatment alternatives available for patients with wet AMD,” reports Leonard S. Schleifer, M.D., Ph.D., president and CEO of Regeneron.