San Diego’s Daré Bioscience reached an agreement to acquire Microchips Biotech, a company that makes chips implanted under the skin to deliver drugs over months or years.
Controlled wirelessly, the company’s chips are said to release precise doses of contraceptives and drugs for diseases like osteoporosis.
Daré Bioscience believes the technology will complement its women’s health pipeline, including ovaprene, its hormone-free vaginal ring that is designed to block out sperm. Some women steer clear of birth control with hormones because of side effects such as depression.
The company may pay up to $101.5 million for Microchips Biotech, provided it meets development, regulatory, funding and commercial goals. Daré said less than $1.3 million would be payable before 2022.
“The Microchips technology holds immense promise to provide women with a sophisticated and flexible contraceptive product that adapts to their individual family planning needs,” said Cheryl Blanchard, the CEO of Microchips Biotech.
She added the platform also has potential in chronic diseases.
Post transaction, Microchips Biotech is expected to have $5.7 million in cash. Next year, it’s eligible to receive an additional $2.5 million from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has already committed $17.9 million to the company.
After the acquisition was announced, Daré reported that ovaprene in a clinical trial “prevented essentially all sperm from entering the cervical canal,” a marker for contraceptive effectiveness.
“These findings are encouraging with regard to ovaprene’s potential as an alternative to traditional hormone-based options,” said Andrea Thurman, a professor at CONRAD/Eastern Virginia Medical School, and a principal investigator of the study.
With the clinical trial results, Daré said it’s planning a late-stage study of ovaprene in the second half of 2020. If a success, the company would ask the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to approve the contraceptive.
“Market trends suggest there is a robust segment of women demanding alternatives to hormonal contraception and who prefer a once-a-month option,” said Sabrina Martucci Johnson, CEO of Daré, in a statement.
Microchips Biotech spun out of Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A study, published in Science Translational Medicine in 2012, indicated its chips were safe and effective at dosing osteoporosis medicine to seven elderly women.