Struggling XenoPort rumored to consider a sale

XenoPort ($XNPT), a month removed from deep job cuts, is looking to sell itself, according to Reuters, reaching out to potential acquirers after a string of R&D disappointments.

The Santa Clara, CA, company has recruited an investment bank to pitch to possible buyers, Reuters reported, citing unnamed sources. XenoPort, whose shares have fallen by more than a third since September, commands a market cap of about $302 million.

Things went awry for XenoPort last year when XP23829, an oral psoriasis drug, came through with mixed results in a Phase II study. The company at first declared the trial a success and outlined plans for a late-stage effort but later relented and cut the program altogether. In October, the biotech disclosed its plans to lay off 25 workers by late December, and CEO Ronald Barrett, who helped start the company in 2009, retired at the same time.

Since then, XenoPort has said it wants to get out of the business of R&D, seeking partners for XP23829 as well as the mid-stage Parkinson's disease treatment XP21279.

XenoPort has a single approved asset, the restless legs syndrome treatment Horizant, and has put all of its efforts behind that. The drug, approved in 2012, has long been a sales disappointment, and GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) abandoned its stake in Horizant shortly after launch.

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