Shire is boosting its rare disease drug pipeline by buying Lotus Tissue Repair.

For an undisclosed sum, consisting of an upfront fee and payments based on safety and development milestones, Shire is getting hold of "the first and only protein replacement therapy currently being investigated for the treatment of dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa". DEB is a very rare genetic disease characterised by extremely fragile skin and severe cases may include internal blistering of the mouth, oesophagus and the lower gastrointestinal tract. There is no currently approved treatment other than palliative care.

Privately-held Lotus' lead product candidate is a recombinant form of human collagen type VII (rC7), an intravenous protein replacement therapy which is in late pre-clinical development. Philip Vickers, head of R&D at Shire's  Human Genetic Therapies unit, said "we plan to apply our proven ability to develop protein replacement therapies for rare genetic diseases to progress rC7as a possible groundbreaking treatment".

Shire added that the purchase of Lotus, launched in 2011 by a team of biotech entrepreneurs, rC7 experts and the life sciences investor Third Rock Ventures, complements its own treatment ABH001, which is currently being investigated as a skin substitute therapy for the treatment of non-healing wounds in patients with the rare disease.