Danish biopharmaceutical company Zymenex has announced in a press release the sale of its candidate drug Metazym to the British medical concern Shire plc for USD 135m. Metazym is a potential treatment for the rare and fatal genetic disease metachromatic leukodystrophy (MLD).
Shire is a leading player in the development and commercialization of treatments against a number of the so-called lysosomal storage diseases, of which MLD is one. Shire is expected to continue development and seek to bring the product to market as quickly as possible. Zymenex reports on its website that the FDA in the US has granted Metazym orphan drug status*.
MLD is caused by a lack of an enzyme called ASA (arylsulphatase A) for which Metazym provides drug replacement therapy. The disease affects children in their first year of life, and quickly proves fatal. Metazym has already completed phase I clinical testing and is currently in phase II testing in Denmark.
According to press bureau Ritzau, one of the investors in Zymenex is the Danish growth fund Vækstfonden, which has gained DKK 170m (USD 35.6m) from the sale - double the amount it originally invested. Vækstfonden director Christian Motzfeldt comments: "This is good news for Danish biotech. Despite difficult conditions for selling, the company has achieved a good price for developing a clinical candidate to phase II."
Founded in 1998, Zymenex is headquartered in Hillerød north of Copenhagen and has research laboratories in Stockholm, Sweden. The company is privately owned, with BankInvest Biomedical Venture and Sunstone Capital as the largest shareholders. Zymenex has two other projects for orphan diseases in the development pipeline; Lamazym for alpha-mannosidosis and Galaczym for globoid cell leukodystrophy.
* status given to products developed for rare, serious diseases, which gives the manufacturer tax reductions and market exclusivity for a period of at least 7 years post-approval in order to make such product development financially worthwhile – Ed.