Roche has snapped up rights to an experimental eye disease drug and technology from US biotech Eleven Biotherapeutics in a deal that be worth $270 million.

The Swiss drugs giant has bought Eleven's EBI-031, a humanised monoclonal antibody that potently binds IL-6 and inhibits all known forms of IL-6 cytokine signalling, currently being developed for the potential treatment of ocular diseases, and all other IL-6 antagonist antibody technology.

EBI-031 is Eleven's most advanced preclinical product candidate targeting treatment of diabetic macular edema and uveitis. The drug was designed and engineered for intravitreal delivery using Eleven's AMP-Rx protein engineering platform.

In return for handing over the rights, Eleven will bank an upfront payment of $7.5 million, along with potential future milestone payments of up to $262.5 million, as well as royalties for net sales of potential future products.

The first milestone payment will equal $22.5 million if the drug's IND, which has just been submitted by Eleven, becomes effective on or before September 15, 2016, or $20.0 million if it does so after this date.