Switzerland’s Serono says it has signed a deal with Syntonix Pharmaceuticals to develop an inhalable version of interferon-beta therapy for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. The news gave a boost to the Swiss firm’s share price, which was already on the way up as a the company benefited from the bad news that has befalled rival MS drugmakers, Elan and Biogen Idec. The latter two yesterday revealed a third case of a potentially fatal complication in a patient receiving their suspended MS drug, Tysabri (natalizumab) [[31/03/05a]].

Under the terms of the Syntonix deal, Serono has licensed the former’s Transceptor and SynFusion technologies, which facilitate the transportation of therapeutic proteins into the lungs.

Serono, which currently markets Rebif (interferon beta-1a) for relapsing forms of MS, did not disclose the financial details of the agreement, but said it would be responsible for all further development and commercialisation of the product. In return, Syntonix will receive an upfront license fee and will be eligible for development milestones and royalties upon commercialisation.