BioWorld International Correspondent

LONDON - CeNeS Pharmaceuticals plc is taking over TheraSci Ltd. in an all-share deal that values the privately held company at £3.7 million (US$6.3 million) and gives CeNeS access to £1 million cash and a sedatives program in-licensed from GSK Ventures.

Neil Clark, CeNeS's chief operating officer, told BioWorld International: "We have been tracking TheraSci because we were looking for a private [central nervous system] company to acquire, and there are very few of them. This is an excellent fit in terms of pipeline; it is a virtual company with no one to make redundant and no property to be disposed of."

TheraSci's management team, led by CEO Simon Kerr, will join CeNeS.

Cambridge, UK-based CeNeS will issue 45.7 million shares, representing 22.2 percent of its existing share capital, to the owners of TheraSci, which are Avlar Bioventures, GSK Ventures (a division of GlaxoSmithKline plc) and the founders.

Following completion, CeNeS will have sufficient funding for two years. In that time it believes it will get clinical proof of concept for the sedative program that is targeted at the surgical and nonsurgical procedures market.

Apart from the sedatives, CeNeS gets back ownership of a selective dopamine D1 receptor antagonist that it licensed to TheraSci earlier this year for the treatment of sleep disorders and substance abuse.

Clark said: "This is not an asset we base value on. We will have a look at it, because TheraSci does have a novel approach, but we still have limited cash resources and are committed to the sedatives program."

TheraSci also has programs in Parkinson's disease and anesthesia.

The acquisition of TheraSci is the first positive move for CeNeS after two years of restructuring that has seen the company sell many assets and move its stock exchange listing from London's main market to the Alternative Investment Market.

"CeNeS has made great progress," Clark said. "Two years ago we were in the pits. Now look where we are - two year's funding and a vastly expanded pipeline."

CeNeS' lead product, M6G, a metabolite of morphine for treating post-operative pain, is in Phase III work, and its second product, CNS5161, an ion channel blocker for treating neuropathic pain, is in Phase II studies.