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Shire plc (SHPG - Analyst Report) recently announced that the company acquired privately held Premacure AB.

Financial terms of the deal include an upfront payment along with milestone payments to Premacure. The erstwhile Premacure was headquartered in Sweden.

The acquisition of Premacure has added a protein replacement therapy for the prevention of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) to Shire’s pipeline. An uncommon eye disorder, ROP mostly affects premature infants resulting in visual loss in childhood.

Following the acquisition, Premacure has become a part of Shire’s Human Genetic Therapies Franchise (HGT) and has enabled HGT to foray into a new therapeutic area – neonatology.

Premacure’s protein replacement therapy for ROP is at present in phase II with key focus on restore the insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) levels in the preterm infants. Shire will develop the candidate going forward.

Shire has been strengthening is HGT franchise in recent times to focus on developing novel therapies for the treatment of rare diseases requiring medical need.

In Feb 2013, Shire completed the acquisition of privately-held Lotus Tissue Repair, Inc. which is developing a protein replacement therapy currently being investigated for the treatment of dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa (DEB).

Subsequently, Shire’s HGT took over the development of Lotus Tissue Repair’s lead candidate, a proprietary recombinant form of human collagen type VII (rC7), an intravenous protein replacement therapy for the treatment of DEB.

We note that Shire already has an EB candidate, ABH001, in its pipeline. ABH001 is being developed as a dermal substitute therapy for the treatment of non-healing wounds in patients with EB.

We remind investors that Shire acquired a worldwide exclusive license from pirvately held IGAN Biosciences, Inc. in Oct 2012 to develop and commercialize protease-based therapeutics for the treatment of IgA nephropathy, a rare kidney disease.

However, Shire faces stiff competition from the likes of ViroPharma in the key HGT market.

Shire currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Pharma stocks, which currently look well placed, include Novo Nordisk (NVO - Analyst Report) and Eli Lilly & Co (LLY - Analyst Report). Both carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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