Two leading lights in the European drug discovery game, Elbion of Germany
and Belgium’s 4AZA Bioscience, have announced plans to merge.
The combined company, which will be called Elbion, will be headquartered
at 4AZA’s site in Leuven, Belgium, where it will concentrate its corporate
functions, business development and research facilities for immunology.
Elbion’s facilities and staff in Radebeul, Germany, will be retained to
“continue to drive the largest part of the company’s fully-integrated drug
discovery and development activity” focusing in the central nervous
The new group can boast partnerships with GlaxoSmithKline and Gilead
Sciences and it claims to have “a maturing pipeline with two products in
the clinic for areas of significant commercial potential,” as well as “a
further portfolio of high-quality, late pre-clinical development compounds.
Building a European presence
Bernd Kastler, Elbion’s chief executive, will take on the same role for
the combined group and will re-locate to Leuven. His counterpart at 4AZA,
Mark de Boer, will work with the new entity as a consultant.
Mr Kastler said that “bringing together two leading companies in Belgium
and Germany creates an excellent platform for building a significant
He added that Belgium will “give us an excellent international base to
execute our growth strategy by adding to our pipeline through our own
discovery platforms, targeted in-licensing and further mergers and
acquisitions.” Elbion is also looking at maximising “the value of our
portfolio through further partnering of our compounds and through
selectively marketing products ourselves,” he concluded.
Elbion was created in 2002 as the result of a management buyout from
Degussa. Its lead product candidate, AWD 12-281, is a topical PDE4
inhibitor, in Phase II for the treatment of atopic dermatitis, and the
compound is licensed to GSK for worldwide, exclusive development and
commercialisation. 4AZA has an agreement with Gilead to develop compounds for the treatment of hepatitis C.