The company was created by a Silicon Valley incubator.

Roche Holdings Inc. has acquired ForSight VISION4, a biotechnology company focused on drug delivery for treatment of retinal diseases.

The company is the fourth venture created by Menlo Park, CA-based incubator ForSight Labs LLC. It was funded entirely by Silicon Valley-based venture capital firms Morgenthaler Ventures and Versant Ventures, according to a press release.

In the agreement, Roche acquired ForSight VISION4 for an upfront payment and additional earn-out payments related to development and commercial milestones.

The acquisition expands Roche's exclusive access to the ForSight VISION4 PDS technology for long-acting delivery of therapeutics to the eye. In 2010, ForSight VISION4 announced a collaboration and license agreement with Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, for exclusive rights to use ForSight VISION4's proprietary drug delivery technology for the target VEGF-A.

"This transaction marks the successful culmination of an early and ongoing collaboration between the ForSight VISION4 team and the team at Genentech, and puts the PDS technology on a path to revolutionize retinal therapies for patients worldwide," said K. Angela Macfarlane, president and CEO of ForSight VISION4. "We believe that Roche, a leader in ophthalmic drug development, is the ideal partner to drive the further development of the PDS."

The PDS is a durable intravitreal implant that is placed through a scleral incision in a one-time surgical procedure. It is then refilled using a proprietary refill needle by a physician in an office setting.

The ranibizumab PDS is currently in a Phase II study, the "LADDER" Study (NCT02510794) sponsored by Genentech to define the duration of drug delivery possible with the PDS technology. ForSight VISION4 has developed the PDS to facilitate a wide array of molecules and therapeutic payloads, including delivery of small molecules that typically have a short retention time inside the eye.

The acquisition by Roche provides the opportunity for the PDS technology to be applied broadly to other molecules in the Roche pipeline as an approach for extending the duration between treatments for intravitreally injected drugs.

Retinal vascular diseases, such as neovascular age-related macular degeneration and diabetic eye disease, are leading causes of vision loss in both working-aged and elderly people. Today, the most common treatment for these sight-threatening diseases is intraocular injections of anti-VEGF drugs.

The intensity of treatment can place a burden on patients, their caregivers and physicians, and recent studies have shown that under-treatment may lead to significant, unrecoverable vision loss, according to the press release. Technologies that could extend the duration between treatments could offer a significant benefit to patients by reducing the burden of treatment and leading to better vision outcomes.