Aeterna Zentaris Awarded Grant by German Government to Develop Novel Targeted Anti-Cancer Compounds

Mar 24, 2011, 07:30 ET from AETERNA ZENTARIS INC.

New cytotoxic conjugates and diagnostic tools to be developed to expand AEZS-108 technology platform

All amounts are in US dollars

QUEBEC CITY, March 24 /PRNewswire/ - Aeterna Zentaris Inc. (NASDAQ: AEZS) (TSX: AEZ) (the "Company") today announced that it has been awarded a $1.5 million grant from the German Ministry of Education and Research to develop, up to the clinical stage, cytotoxic conjugates of the proprietary cytotoxic compound disorazol Z and peptides targeting G-protein coupled receptors, including the LHRH receptors. The compounds being developed will combine the targeting principle successfully employed in Phase 2 with AEZS-108 (doxorubicin and LHRH-receptor targeting agent) with the novel cytotoxic disorazol Z. Furthermore, diagnostic tools systematically assessing the receptor expression in tumor specimens will be developed to allow the future selection of patients and tumor types with the highest chance of benefitting from this personalized medicine approach. The grant will be payable as a partial reimbursement of qualifying expenditures over a three-year period.

The qualified project will be performed with Morphisto GmbH and the Helmholtz Institute in Saarbrücken, Germany, which will receive additional funding of approximately $0.7 million. Researchers from the department of Gynecology and Obstetrics at both the University of Göttingen and Würzburg, Germany, will also be part of the collaboration.

Juergen Engel, Ph.D. and CEO of Aeterna Zentaris Inc. stated, "This $1.5 million grant for the development of our disorazol Z conjugates is further acknowledgement of our innovative targeting concept. Using this funding, we will be able, with the help of our highly qualified partners, to rapidly translate this technology into the clinical setting and will expand our AEZS-108 technology platform."

About Disorazol Conjugates

Disorazol Z is a bacterially produced compound with cytotoxic activity in the sub-nanomolar range. The proof-of-concept of LHRH-receptor targeting disorazol Z conjugates for the treatment of ovarian cancer has already been demonstrated in a xenograft mouse model.

About Aeterna Zentaris Inc.

Aeterna Zentaris is a late-stage oncology drug development company currently investigating potential treatments for various cancers including colorectal, ovarian, endometrial cancer and multiple myeloma. The Company's innovative approach of "personalized medicine" means tailoring treatments to a patient's specific condition and to unmet medical needs. Aeterna Zentaris' deep pipeline is drawn from its proprietary discovery unit providing the Company with constant and long-term access to state-of-the-art therapeutic options. For more information please visit

Forward-Looking Statements

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