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Senesco to merge with Calif. biotech firm

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Bridgewater-based cancer therapy company Senesco Technologies Inc. has agreed to merge with Fabrus Inc., a California biotech developing treatments for multiple diseases.

The companies plan to finalize the non-binding agreement in early 2014.

Senesco CEO Leslie Brown said the combination will expand the company's research and development capability with potential to develop drugs attacking an array of cancers.

San Diego-based Fabrus has proprietary technology designed to improve the discovery of antibodies. Brown said Fabrus technology could complement Senesco's gene regulation platform, which has shown ability to kill cancerous cells and protect healthy cells from premature death.

Senesco is currently in clinical trial with a product that treats cancers including multiple myeloma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and non-Hodgkin's B-cell lymphomas.

"This merger is a great fit for both companies," Senesco chairman Dr. Harlan Waksal said in a statement Monday.

Fabrus has two collaborations with pharmaceutical and biotech companies to discover antibodies targeting renal cell carcinoma and inflammation. The company has gained the investment support from Pfizer Inc. and Opko Health Inc.

"We believe this merger will significantly help speed Fabrus' trajectory as we continue our proprietary antibody discovery activities," said Dr. Vaughn Smider, founder and president of Fabrus.

Under the agreement, shareholders of Senesco and Fabrus will each receive about 50 percent of the combined companies. Fabrus will merge with a wholly-owned subsidiary of Senesco. Shareholders of Senesco will be entitled to hold their existing securities.

The companies said additional details of the merger will be disclosed when a definitive agreement is executed.

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