Shire is buying global rights to Pfizer's investigational biologic PF-00547659 for inflammatory bowel disease.

The drug, which is designed to target a gastrointestinal endothelial adhesion molecule - mucosal addressin cell adhesion molecule 1 (MAdCAM-1) - that binds to lymphocytes, has already completed Phase II development.

Phase III trials of the fully human monoclonal antibody are scheduled to begin after consultation with global health authorities, Shire noted.

"This licensing transaction fits with Shire's commitment to advancing research and development in select specialty areas, including areas of unmet patient need for gastrointestinal conditions such as IBD," said Howard Mayer, Head of Clinical Development, Shire.

Terms of the deal - which remains contingent of Hart-Scott-Rodino approval - were not unveiled.

IBD, which is thought to affect more than 3.5 million people in the US, EU and Japan, includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, serious, chronic diseases characterised by inflammation of the intestine which can cause debilitating symptoms in patients.

Treatment centers on reducing inflammation and associated symptoms through diet and lifestyle changes, pharmacologic therapy, other treatments, or surgery.