Aventis announced plans to cut R&D costs by spinning out a stake in one of its research units. The private equity house Warburg
Pincus will invest 60 million euro in ProSkelia, taking a 58 percent share. Aventis will retain the other 42 percent. ProSkelia,
based in Romainville, near Paris, France, special-izes in early-stage research into treatments for bone disease.
Aventis also intends to spin off its gene therapy unit, Gencell, but it has yet to find a partner that is prepared to meet
its valuation. Attempts to reduce research cash burn follow Aventis' discontinuation of trials for two of the company's pipeline
compounds. Development of the ACE/NEP (angiotensin con-verting enzyme/neutral endopeptidase) inhibitor M100,240 for the treatment
of hypertension was stopped after a Phase II clinical trial yielded disappointing results. Aventis says it intends to examine
the drug's possibilities in other therapeutic uses.
It has also terminated a co-development agreement with ViroPharma of Exton, Penn-sylvania, for the antiviral agent Picovir
(pleconaril), intended to treat the common cold. FDA issued a non-approvable letter for it in May.