Serono to develop new infertility treatment
The Swiss biotechnology group, Serono, says it has signed an exclusive agreement with AstraZeneca to develop a new female infertility drug.
Under the agreement, the Geneva-based company will have the rights to develop, register and market the aromatase inhibitor, Anastrozole. The oral drug acts by blocking the synthesis of oestrogen, thereby improving ovulation.
"We are very pleased to sign this agreement with AstraZeneca," Serono said in a statement on Tuesday. "We believe Anastrozole can play a significant role in this area of female infertility."
Serono said aromatase inhibitors had shown promise in early tests as potential first-line agents for treating infertility.
"Phase two trials will be starting later on this year and we hope the drug will come onto the market - if everything goes well - in about four to five years' time."
AstraZeneca also welcomed the deal, under which it will manufacture and supply Anastrozole. "AstraZeneca are delighted to be associated with the world's leading infertility company and we look forward to exciting developments for Anastrozole in this setting," said Brent Vose, vice president of the British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant.
Female infertility affects more than ten million women in major industrialised countries. Serono said it hoped the development of improved and more convenient first-line therapies, such as Anastrozole, would allow women greater access to treatment.
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