Roche has agreed to license exclusively Eleven Biotherapeutics’ interleukin-6 (IL-6) antagonist antibody technology for up to $270 million, Eleven Bio said today.

As part of the agreement, Roche will be granted a license to develop and commercialize Eleven Bio’s most advanced preclinical product candidate EBI-031, a treatment for diabetic macular edema (DME) and uveitis.

Eleven Bio said separately today it had submitted an IND to the FDA seeking to initiate a Phase I clinical trial of EBI-031, a humanized monoclonal antibody that binds IL-6—and, according to the company, inhibits all known forms of IL-6 cytokine signaling.

In return for the exclusive worldwide license, Eleven Bio said that Roche has agreed to pay Eleven Bio $7.5 million upfront and up to $262.5 million in payments tied to achieving milestones.

The first potential future milestone payment is subject to the effectiveness of an IND for EBI-031. That payment will equal $22.5 million if the IND becomes effective on or before September 15, or $20 million if the IND becomes effective after September 15.

Eleven Bio said it was also entitled to receive royalties for net sales of potential future products containing EBI-031 or any other potential future products containing other IL-6 compounds.

The license agreement is subject to approval by holders of at least a majority of outstanding shares of Eleven’s common stock.

“We are pleased to see Roche poised to further develop this potent IL-6 blocker for the potential benefit of patients,” Eleven Bio’s President and CEO Abbie Celniker, Ph.D., said in a statement.

Dr. Celinker added that Eleven Bio was continuing to evaluate strategic alternatives, as the company announced earlier this year.

“Potential strategic alternatives to be explored and evaluated during the review process may include the sale of the company, a strategic partnership with one or more parties, or the licensing, sale, or divestiture of some of the Company's proprietary technologies,” Eleven Bio said on March 24.

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