Transaction covers Phase I/II compound for treating metachromatic leukodystrophy and does not include any other payments.

Shire is buying a CNS disease enzyme-replacement therapy (ERT) from Zymenex for $135 million. Metazyme™ is in Phase I/II trials for metachromatic leukodystrophy (MLD), a disease in which patients experience progressive, irreversible neurological damage.

Zymenex will provide certain transition services for up to six months after completion. The transaction does not include any royalties or other downstream payment obligations.

Even with just 2,000 people affected in developed world markets, according to Shire, the company anticipates a good return on investment. “It is very early to speculate prior to completing clinical trials and developing a product profile, however, Shire estimates that the commercial opportunity is in line with their treatment of Hunter syndrome, Elaprase, although it is too early to discuss pricing at this time,” according to a Shire spokesperson. “Elaprase is now approved in 37 countries worldwide and sales for the year up to December 31, 2007 were $181.8 million.”

Metazyme has orphan drug designation in the U.S. and EU. It has completed a Phase Ib study in 12 MLD patients in Europe. An extension to this study is ongoing.

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