AEterna Zentaris enters US market via Echelon buy
Echelon's product pipeline is focused on the rapidly emerging field of transduction signalling technology. It has early therapeutic leads (mostly direct PI3K inhibitors) against some forms of cancer and is in a position to deliver new highly-effective oncology therapeutics. The focus is also on small molecule agonists and antagonists to lipid-protein signalling interactions which are new and important therapeutic targets. Furthermore, Echelon markets chemical reagents, and sales reached nearly $2.2 million during the last 12 months. "First and foremost, this acquisition provides us with a complementary strategic fit for our signal transduction inhibitors platform, mainly represented by perifosine, our lead compound in oncology", said Gilles Gagnon, president and CEO of AEterna Zentaris. "It also marks our entry into the US, a crucial market for our growth strategy." In line with the strategic development of compounds that can block the PI3K-AKT pathways, AEterna Zentaris has initiated pre-clinical development of Erucylphosphocholine or ErPC (ZEN 027), an analog of perifosine which is suitable for intravenous administration. AEterna Zentaris has also licensed to Keryx Biopharmaceuticals, its current North American partner for perifosine, certain rights to develop and market ErPC in North America, South Africa, Israel, Australia and New Zealand while keeping those rights for the rest of the world. Like perifosine, ErPC belongs to a new class of compounds based on alkylphosphocholines developed in Germany by AEterna Zentaris. "We have been excited about the potential of signal transduction inhibitors in oncology for a long time. The acquisition of Echelon as well as the expansion of our successful collaboration with Keryx Biopharmaceuticals will allow AEterna Zentaris to further manifest its leading position in this field", stated Dr Jurgen Engel, executive vice president of R&D and COO of AEterna Zentaris.