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Roche (RHHBY) (Jobs) and Siena Biotech S.p.A. Enter Research Collaboration Agreement in Neurodegenerative Diseases



5/18/2007 12:56:42 PM

Siena, Italy, May 17th 2007 Siena Biotech S.p.A., announced today that they have entered into a Research and Collaboration Agreement with Roche to perform joint research activities targeted towards treatment of selected neurodegenerative diseases.

"This Collaboration Agreement with Roche is an excellent example of our commitment to the fight against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and rare forms of disease for which there is a large unmet medical need," said Dr. Giovanni Gaviraghi, Chief Executive Officer of Siena Biotech S.p.A. "The research strategy we share with Roche will encourage synergisms that will help speed up the development of drug candidates emerging from our combined research. This important and innovative agreement validates the strength of our research activities and is consistent with our strategy of collaborations for the development of effective therapies against diseases of the CNS.

About Alzheimer’s Disease Alzheimer’s is a fatal disease, the most common cause of irreversible dementia, the seventh leading cause of death in developed countries and the fifth for those over age 65. It is a major health problem worldwide, and has enormous impact on individuals suffering from it, their families, the health care systems supporting them and for society as a whole. It is estimated that currently 18 million people worldwide are affected by Alzheimer’s disease (more than 5 million people in the U.S. and between 6 and 7 million in Western Europe). Its prevalence doubles every five years beyond the age of 65, up to a ratio of 1:2 in people aged 85 and over. With the continued ageing of populations in industrialized countries, the burden of disease in terms of social costs and quality of life is expected to increase substantially.

About the Agreement Under the terms of the Research Collaboration Agreement, Roche and Siena Biotech will perform joint research activities on an undisclosed target, with the primary objective to identify active compounds against Alzheimer’s disease and other rare forms of neurodegeneration. The provisions of the Agreement include Roche’s contribution to the research costs that will be shared with Siena Biotech..

The two companies will share research activities in the following areas: - screening and generation of hit compounds - modelling and drug design - lead series generation and compound optimization - identification of candidate molecules to be considered for further clinical development.

Roche will have the first option to select candidate molecules for their further pre-clinical and clinical development in the field and will have worldwide marketing rights for products emerging from the collaboration. Siena Biotech will have the option to develop compounds emerging from the collaboration as well as for orphan disease indications. The two companies will be contributing with their respective Intellectual Property, assets and know-how, and will be exclusively collaborating on the selected target.

About Siena Biotech S.p.A. Siena Biotech S.p.A. is an innovative drug discovery company whose research efforts are focused on diseases of the Central Nervous System, both neurodegenerative and proliferative, including rare diseases, with the aim of discovering new drugs for therapeutic intervention. “The ever increasing research costs – notes Siena Biotech’s President and Monte dei Paschi di Siena Foundation’s Managing Director, Marco Parlangeli – have caused an increasing use of innovative strategic business models (spin-off, acquisitions, strategic alliances, J.V.s, co-operation agreements), in order to create business management systems. This very logic has inspired the agreement with Roche, representing another important step forward for the Center of Excellence in biotechnology developing in Siena. The MPS Foundation is carrying out an important institutional role in defining the overall project and catalyzing resources through two important players, Siena Biotech SpA and the Toscana Life Science Foundation, in order to create a “biotechnology system”, capable of addressing all phases from basic research to the development of new drugs and their final distribution”.

In order to support effectively the Drug Discovery process from target identification to Proof of Concept studies, the Siena (Italy) - based company is structured around a Drug Discovery model encompassing a series of advanced technological platforms ranging from target identification and validation to the identification of active compounds, their optimization and ensuing clinical studies. More information about Siena Biotech at www.sienabiotech.com

The company has developed an internal portfolio of several innovative R&D projects in three therapeutic areas: Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease and brain cancer, with particular focus on malignant gliomas. The projects are rapidly progressing through the pipeline also thanks to important R&D collaborations, like the project on Alzheimer’s disease currently ongoing in collaboration with Wyeth Pharmaceuticals. Siena Biotech, thanks to the scientific level and experience of its researchers, can count on a wide network of external collaborations, both in the academic and business communities, creating sound scientific bases for its research efforts and for the interface with patients and physicians. Siena Biotech is the coordinator of three Research Projects funded by the European Commission and participates in several networks in the areas of its expertise.

Siena Biotech is an instrumental company of the Monte dei Paschi di Siena Foundation to operate in the field of scientific research and biotechnology, in line with its charter and mission. “Scientific research is a key success factor in sustaining competitiveness, economic wealth and quality of life - has commented to this regard the President of the MPS Foundation Gabriello Mancini. Today our Country is still facing a very low level of investments in this sector: only 1.16% of GDP, representing, percentage-wise, only 1/3rd of France, 1/5th of Germany and 1/7th of Switzerland. Bank Foundations have a chance to play a pivotal role in this sector, spearheading investment growth. This is already happening to a certain degree: in recent years we have witnessed an increasing number of resources devoted by bank foundations to scientific research: +36% between 2001 and 2004, for a total investment of about € 436 MM. The Monte dei Paschi di Siena Foundation in the last six years alone (2001-2006) has devoted a total of about € 48 MM to third-party scientific research projects. On top of these funds, further € 70 MM have been invested in own life science projects: Siena Biotech and the Toscana Life Science Foundation”. More information about Fondazione Monte dei Paschi di Siena at www.fondazionemps.it.

CONTACT for Siena Biotech: Gianluca Breghi, gbreghi@sienabiotech.com, +39 0577 381 219

CONTACT for Fondazione Monte dei Paschi di Siena: Gianni Tiberi, Gianni.Tiberi@fondazionemps.it.

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