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Asterion and Genzyme in protein research and option agreement

This article was originally published in Scrip

Executive Summary

The UK “third generation” biotech firm Asterion has signed a research and option agreement with Genzyme to develop a long-acting form of an undisclosed non-cytokine protein. Genzyme will gain access to Asterion’s intellectual property surrounding a specific protein target and will research the creation of a long-acting and potent version of it. Nomura Code analysts say that although the project is at an early stage, it "signals a further endorsement" of Asterion’s technology platform. The Asterion Fusion Technology provides more easily administered versions of largely protein-based drugs. Its lead candidates, long-acting growth hormone proteins, are expected to enter clinical trials in 2009-10. They are being developed with Ipsen for conditions including short stature and acromegaly, a disorder caused by excess production of growth hormone. Asterion, a spin-out of the University of Sheffield, is a portfolio company of Fusion IP (Scrip Online, March 27th, 2008). Fusion IP has the rights to the IP generated by Sheffield and Cardiff Universities, giving it an R&D spend of around £167 million, says Nomura. With this research spend and a portfolio of more than 25 companies, the analyst firm believes Fusion IP is undervalued.

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