Germany’s Paion, which recently acquired the UK’s CeNes, says it is confident about getting a licensing partner for the latter’s morphine-based lead product.

This confidence is based on positive results from a meta-analysis of Phase II and Phase III data generated by M6G (morphine-6-glucuronide) for post-operative pain. The Aachen-based company says that “applying the findings should improve the probability of success for the development programme and will facilitate the planning of future studies”.

In spring 2007, a Phase III study with M6G demonstrated that M6G reduced pain as effectively as morphine, the current standard treatment for post- operative pain. It also showed a significant reduction in vomiting, a common side effect of morphine.

Nevertheless, while “a marked and clinically relevant decrease in nausea was also shown, statistical significance was narrowly missed”, Paion notes. Once it acquired CeNeS, it initiated a meta-analysis based on 769 patients from two Phase II studies and two Phase III studies. The results confirm the analgesic effect of M6G and also reveal statistically significant reductions in both vomiting and nausea compared with morphine.

Wolfgang Soehngen, Paion’s chief executive, said that as previously shown with the firm’s investigational stroke drug desmoteplase which recently stumbled in a late-stage trial and is now partnered with Lundbeck, “a thorough analysis of clinical studies is a powerful tool, especially for studies which have failed at first glance”. The latest meta-analysis “supports our thesis that M6G could make an important contribution to the improvement of pain management for patients requiring opioid analgesia”, he added.

Accordingly, Paion is now re-launching the partnering process for M6G and the new data gives the firm “a higher probability of success” in signing a pact, Mr Soehngen said. It was the inability to find a partner that savaged CeNeS’ share price in the first place, leaving the firm open to a takeover. Paion paid around £10.9 million in shares to get hold of the Cambridge-based firm.