Catch a Falling Star
Serono's €104.7 cash offer for France's Genset came just in time for the cash-strapped genomics play, once the star of French biotech. Critics claim Serono's 195% premium for an almost-bankrupt company is nothing short of crazy, but Serono reckons it's spotted an unexploited asset.
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The broad research, development and commercialization alliance inked in September between ZymoGenetics Inc. and Serono SA stands out not only for its size and scope--an unlimited number of proteins and up-front equity purchases and license fees totalling $81.25 million--but also because each partner is a biotech company, and the research chores will be shared from the outset.
Endocube, a French firm set up in 2001, aims to get at the genetic roots of inflammatory processes by investigating previously undescribed enzymes located on the surface of cuboidal cells--endothelial cells that have turned cube-like as a result of chronic inflammation.
Recent concerns over the cardiovascular risk profile of Cox-2 inhibitors strengthen the case for pain compound AZD 3582, a new formulation of naproxen in Phase II trials at AstraZeneca. For the compound's originator, NicOx, forthcoming trial results will be critical in validating the firm's founding concept: grafting a nitric oxide molecule onto existing generic drugs.