Busy Servier grabs an option on Celladon's early-stage diabetes work

A busy Servier wants to explore Celladon's technology to see if there are some small molecule applications to diabetes and other metabolic conditions that warrant clinical development. The French biotech grabbed an option on the Serca technology for an undisclosed price, tying it to an unspecified package of potential upfronts and milestones if they can get through a series of in vitro and in vivo tests.

The newly public Celladon ($CLDN) is best known for its late-stage heart drug Mydicar, a gene therapy which uses a benign virus to insert the Serca2a gene into heart cells. The treatment is designed to spur an ailing heart to pump up blood flow in patients. In this new pact with Servier they'll be working on Serca2b, an enzyme that directs calcium in the endoplasmic reticulum and is found lacking in stressed cells, which may play a role in the development of heart disease, diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases.

In the deal Servier has the inside track on ex-U.S. rights to the diabetes arena. At least for now, San Diego-based Celladon will keep U.S. rights.

Celladon had to back off an ambitious IPO effort last fall, settling for an $8 price on 5.5 million shares a few weeks ago after initially setting a range of $14 to $16 a share. The lower price didn't hold, though. This morning its stock price was up 8% to $8.11.

Servier has been busy on the R&D front. Last week the company partnered with Cellectis on its allogeneic CAR-T cancer therapy, which is also at a very early stage of development.

- here's the release

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