US-based Senesco Technologies has agreed a merger with Fabrus, a biotechnology firm that develops treatments for multiple diseases, and a non-binding agreement is expected to be finalised in the early part of this year.

Under the merger agreement, shareholders of Senesco and Fabrus will each hold 50% of the combined company. Additional details of the transaction will be disclosed once an agreement has been signed.

Senesco president and CEO Dr Leslie J Browne said: "Fabrus antibodies could complement our eIF5A gene regulatory platform, which has been shown to kill cancer cells, by directing nanoparticle-based therapeutics to the cells of interest."

Fabrus will merge with a wholly owned subsidiary of Senesco, with shareholders entitled to hold their existing securities. A non-binding letter of intent has been signed.

"Fabrus antibodies could complement our eIF5A gene regulatory platform, which has been shown to kill cancer cells."

Fabrus aims to expand the impact of antibodies aimed at drug targets that are resistant to traditional antibody discovery methods. Its research and technology is published in the scientific journals Nature Biotechnology and Cell.

At present, Fabrus has two collaborations in place with large pharma and biotech companies and an internal pipeline of antibodies targeting renal cell carcinoma and inflammation.

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The company’s technology has been successful in generating antibodies against very difficult, therapeutically important cell surface receptors and ion channels.

The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, founder and president of Fabrus and faculty member Dr Vaughn Smider said: "We believe this merger will significantly help speed Fabrus’s trajectory as we continue our proprietary antibody discovery activities."

OPKO Health chairman and CEO and the chairman of the board Teva Pharmaceuticals Dr Phillip Frost said: "Frost Gamma Investments Trust recently made an investment in Senesco Technologies, as well, based on Senesco’s strong technology and preliminary positive clinical data. I believe the combined company brings significant value for Fabrus and Senesco shareholders."