BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc. reached an agreement to buy privately held Synapse Technologies Inc., a Vancouver, British Columbia, company that has technology to deliver therapeutic enzymes and other drugs across the blood-brain barrier using traditional intravenous injections.

BioMarin, of Novato, Calif., will use Synapse’s technology to focus on lysosomal storage disorders.

BioMarin will purchase all the outstanding shares of Synapse for about $10.18 million by exchanging 885,275 shares of its common stock that were valued at $11.50 per share, a price based on the 20-day average during negotiations leading up to the signing of the terms sheet. BioMarin also will make payments of up to $5.1 million in either cash or stock upon reaching certain development milestones.

BioMarin’s stock (NASDAQ:BMRN) gained 50 cents Monday to close at $13.95.

BioMarin Chairman and CEO Fredric Price said the acquisition will benefit his company “in an extraordinary way.”

“We are dedicated exclusively to enzyme therapies, and one of the biggest single problems of treating disease is being able to get into the brain, the neuronal component,” Price said.

By focusing on lysosomal storage disorders, BioMarin could seek to discover treatments for a variety of diseases, such as mucopolysaccharidosis I-III, Krabbe’s disease, Pompe’s disease and Tay-Sachs.

Synapse’s technology is based on p97, a natural human blood protein that is being developed to transport both large- and small-molecule drugs across the blood-brain barrier, not just into the brain, but into the lysosomes, where the enzymes have to go in order to be effective for these diseases, Price said.

Thus far, it has shown promise in lab experiments and in animal models. Synapse has demonstrated that p97 can transport an enzyme across the blood-brain barrier in a mouse model.

“What we are hoping is that if we continue to see progress with the Synapse technology, then in the future we would be able to treat the CNS component of these terrible diseases, and that, I think, is a medical breakthrough,” Price said.

BioMarin plans to invest in research leading to proof of principle for small molecules, hormones or peptides.

All of Synapse’s technology relies on delivery through traditional intravenous injections, which would make it very easy to administer, Price said.

Synapse was founded in 1992 by Wilfred Jefferies at the University of British Columbia. The company has 15 employees, all of whom will remain in Vancouver and be led by Reinhard Gabathuler, who is vice president of research at Synapse and who will become BioMarin’s vice president, brain research.

Its president and CEO, Sam Ruttonsha, was brought in about six months ago specifically to find an acquisition partner for the company, Ruttonsha said.

BioMarin recently raised gross proceeds of $96.6 million from a public offering. The net proceeds were expected to be about $90.8 million. (See BioWorld Today, Nov. 13, 2001, and Dec. 10, 2001.)

In November, BioMarin and its partner, Genzyme General, a division of Genzyme Corp., of Cambridge, Mass., said they plan to file regulatory applications early this year in the U.S., Canada and Europe for Aldurazyme, an enzyme replacement therapy for mucopolysaccharidosis I (MPS I). (See BioWorld Today, Nov. 5, 2001.)