BioWorld International Correspondent

PARIS - Cerenis Therapeutics SA signed a license agreement with Nippon Chemiphar Co. Ltd. for the development of small-molecule therapies based on PPAR delta agonists.

The deal gives Cerenis, of Toulouse, France, and Ann Arbor, Mich., access to a range of PPAR (peroxisome proliferator activated receptor) delta agonists to develop therapies based on high-density lipoprotein (HDL) regulation for cardiovascular diseases and metabolic disorders.

Cerenis will have exclusive development and commercialization rights in the U.S., Europe and other markets outside Europe for any product candidates developed under the agreement, while Nippon Chemiphar, of Tokyo, will retain development and marketing rights in Asia. The Japanese company will receive milestone payments of up to $30 million during the research and development stage, followed by royalties on sales.

Cerenis pointed out that PPAR delta agonists have been shown to play a role in elevating HDL levels, and the company hopes they will help it develop therapies with the potential to reduce cholesterol buildup through the natural process of reverse lipid transport. Its president and CEO, Jean-Louis Dasseux, said the new avenue of research "represents an important complement to our other HDL-focused research and product development initiatives."

Cerenis is developing synthetic compounds and small-molecule drugs that enhance HDL levels and/or activity, concentrating in particular on the treatment of atherosclerosis. It has several research programs under way, one of which is focused on boosting HDL production and others on regulating the function of HDL. The company already has several leads and plans to test its first compounds in the clinic within three years.

Cerenis was founded in March and completed an initial funding round in July in which it raised $30.5 million from an international syndicate of venture capital funds.

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