Shares in UK drug company Shire were in the ascendancy this morning, on the back of rumours linking the firm to a possible takeover by Swiss biotechnology concern Serono.

The rumours, widely reported in the UK press, suggested that Serono was planning an offer for the group. Serono put itself up for sale last year but then changed tack after it failed to find a buyer, putting together a $5.6 billion warchest to fund acquisitions valued at up to $10 billion.

The acquisition would give the Swiss biotech access to biologic drugs – including Fabry disease therapy Replagel (agalsidase alfa) and the anti-anaemia treatment, Dynepo (epoietin delta) - acquired by Shire when it bought Transkarytic Therapies last year in a $1.6 billion deal. Serono was also in the bidding for TKT.

Shire’s shares were up a little under 2% to 767 pence on the London Stock Exchange this morning.

Genmab also up

Meanwhile, another company rumoured to be in Serono’s sights – Denmark’s Genmab – was also up a little over 2% this morning to 183 kroner, although the stock has been rising since before the weekend when the company reported positive Phase II clinical results with AMG 714, a drug for rheumatoid arthritis partnered with US biotech Amgen.

Serono and Genmab already have a working relationship, with Serono licensing rights to Hu-Max-CD4 (zanolimumab), a drug for lymphoma, last August.

Serono also rose on the rumour-mongering, adding 1.4% to reach 808 Swiss francs.