BioWorld International Correspondent

PARIS - UroGene SA signed an exclusive development and commercialization agreement with Aventis Pharmaceuticals Inc. for Besipirdine, which UroGene is to develop for the treatment of overactive bladder.

The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but UroGene's vice president of business development, Pierre Belichard, told BioWorld International that it provided for the payment of late-stage milestones and royalties on sales.

Aventis Pharmaceuticals, of Bridgewater, N.J., a subsidiary of Strasbourg, France-based Aventis SA, had been developing the drug for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, but halted development after completing a Phase II study involving 1,500 patients.

UroGene, which is based in Evry, France, recently demonstrated that Besipirdine, a new C-fiber inhibitor with an original mechanism of action, also had therapeutic potential for treating overactive bladder (OAB). Belichard said the company plans to initiate a Phase II trial in OAB in Europe at the beginning of September.

UroGene said current treatments for OAB are unsatisfactory for half of patients due to lack of efficacy or undesirable side effects, and few sufferers seek treatment. It estimates the potential market at $1.2 billion a year and said it could be worth $4.2 billion by 2009.

Belichard also disclosed that UroGene was engaged in a third funding round in which it plans to raise €20 million. It completed a second round of €12 million in March, with lead investor Société Générale Asset Management (SGAM), the venture capital arm of the Paris-based bank Société Générale, which also led the company's original funding. Other contributors included GenAvent, a Paris-based joint venture between Société Générale and Aventis, and Capricorn Venture Partners, of Louvain, Belgium. This time, Belichard said, UroGene is hoping to attract American as well as European funds.

"The challenge is to find a new lead investor, as SGAM has done all it can," he said, adding that that investor could be on either side of the Atlantic Ocean. UroGene expects the financing to be completed in June.