It’s working on a glaucoma treatment.

TOKYO and CAMBRIDGE, ENGLAND -- Tokyo-based Astellas Pharma Inc. has acquired Quethera Ltd., a U.K.-based gene therapy company that is developing treatments for ocular disorders such as glaucoma.

Astellas may pay up to £85 million (about $109.8 million at today's exchange rate) to Quethera shareholders, including upfront and contingent amounts. Founded in 2013, Quethera has now become a wholly owned subsidiary of Astellas.

"Quethera's novel technology approach is focused on exploring potential treatment options for common ophthalmic diseases, such as glaucoma, that can cause blindness and severely affect the quality of life for patients," said Peter Widdowson, CEO of Quethera. "This deal enables us to accelerate our evaluation of this investigational technology program to see if we can slow or prevent disease progression for these patients."

The acquisition includes Quethera's ophthalmic gene therapy program. It "uses a recombinant adeno-associated viral vector system (rAAV) to introduce therapeutic genes into target retinal cells for the treatment of glaucoma," according to a press release.

Success with the program "would address a high unmet medical need in glaucoma patients who are at risk of losing their eyesight," said Kenji Yasukawa, president and CEO of Astellas.

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