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Chiesi acquires Zymenex and mulls new rare disease unit

Deal adds late-stage orphan drug to Italian pharma company's pipeline

ChiesiChiesi has taken its first steps into the rare disease market with the acquisition of Zymenex and may use deal as the foundation for a new standalone rare disease unit.

The agreement gives the Italian pharma company access to Zymenex's developmental biologics for rare diseases, the most advanced of which is the Lamazym, which has orphan drug designation in Europe and the US.

Currently in phase III clinical trials, Lamazym is being developed as a treatment for alpha-mannosidosis, a rare inherited disorder caused by mutations in the MAN2B1 gene.

Chiesi will also gain access to Zymenex's recombinant biologics expertise and the discovery phase candidate ZA-011, which is being investigated for lysosomal disease.

Chiesi's chief executive officer Ugo Di Francesco said Chiesi's entrance into the rare disease space would give the company an opportunity to access high-potential markets.

He added: "By expanding our research and development assets and know-how, we believe we can successfully commercialise new and developing drugs to enhance our portfolio, expand our international footprint and strengthen our competitive position. 

“Given the rarity of the condition and the importance of being close to the patients, we will consider setting up a standalone rare disease unit that would cover all major geographies, including the US.”

Terms of the deal were not disclosed but it will see Chiesi retain the Zymenex and Lamazym brands and “gradually integrate Zymenex into its R&D structure”.

Headquartered north of Copenhagen, Danish biopharmaceutical company Zymenex was founded in 1998 and its main shareholder is venture capital investor Sunstone Capital.

Sten Verland, chairman of the board at Zymenex and a partner with Sunstone Capital, said: “Patient focus and high quality research in all aspects of the development process are the basis for the company's success.

"We are very pleased to handover the ownership of Zymenex to Chiesi, and we believe that Chiesi through its regulatory expertise and worldwide commercial footprint has the resources needed to fully exploit the potential of Zymenex' R&D for the benefit of patients with rare, serious, genetic diseases, for which there is no treatment available today."

28th August 2013

From: Research, Sales

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