Aeterna Zentaris Announces Collaboration with Ventana Medical Systems, Inc. to Develop Companion Diagnostic in Cancer for AEZS-108

Collaboration is part of Aeterna Zentaris' personalized medicine approach for AEZS-108 as a treatment for multiple cancers

QUÉBEC CITY, Jan. 5, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - Aeterna Zentaris Inc. (NASDAQ: AEZS) (TSX: AEZ) (the "Company") today announced that it entered into a collaboration agreement with Ventana Medical Systems, Inc., a member of the Roche Group, to develop a companion diagnostic for the immunohistochemical determination of luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) receptor expression, for the Company's doxorubicin LHRH targeted conjugate compound, AEZS-108. In humans, LHRH receptors are expressed in a significant proportion of endometrial, ovarian, breast, bladder, prostate and pancreatic tumors. AEZS-108 specifically targets LHRH receptors and therefore, could prove to be more efficient in treating patients with these types of LHRH-receptor positive cancers. Phase 2 trials with AEZS-108 for LHRH-receptor positive advanced endometrial and ovarian cancer have recently been successfully completed.

Juergen Engel, Ph.D., President and CEO of Aeterna Zentaris stated, "We are very pleased with the collaboration with Ventana, because of their expertise in the development and commercialization of companion diagnostic tools. AEZS-108 is a promising anticancer compound as demonstrated by the positive final Phase 2 results in LHRH-receptor expressing endometrial and ovarian cancer. The VENTANA state-of-the-art companion diagnostic tool will allow us to develop improved methods for the selection of patients to be treated with AEZS-108, in order to enhance the efficiency of our clinical trials and help us with the future successful development of AEZS-108 in a number of different LHRH-expressing cancers."

President of Ventana Medical Systems, Inc., Mara G. Aspinall, added, "We are pleased to be the companion diagnostic partner of choice for Aeterna Zentaris to collaborate on this important project. The plan to develop a companion diagnostic for AEZS-108 shows that our companies are well aligned with a clear commitment to advancing personalized healthcare to improve the lives of patients afflicted with cancer."

About AEZS-108

AEZS-108 represents a new targeting concept in oncology using a hybrid molecule composed of a synthetic peptide carrier and a well-known chemotherapy agent, doxorubicin. AEZS-108 is the first intravenous drug in a clinical study that directs the chemotherapy agent specifically to LHRH-receptor expressing tumors, resulting in more targeted treatment with less damage to healthy tissue. The product has successfully completed Phase 2 studies for the treatment of endometrial and ovarian cancer, and is also in Phase 2 trials in prostate and bladder cancer. A pivotal trial in endometrial cancer is expected to be initiated in the first half of 2012. AEZS-108 has been granted orphan-drug designation by the FDA and orphan medicinal product designation from the European Medicines Agency for the treatment of ovarian cancer. An Investigational New Drug in the U.S. is in place for the treatment of prostate, bladder and triple-negative breast cancer. Aeterna Zentaris owns the worldwide rights to AEZS-108.

About Ventana Medical Systems, Inc.

Ventana Medical Systems, Inc. ("VMSI") (SIX: RO, ROG; OTCQX: RHHBY), a member of the Roche Group, innovates and manufactures instruments and reagents that automate tissue processing and slide staining for cancer diagnostics. VENTANA solutions are used in clinical histology and drug development research laboratories worldwide. The company's intuitive, integrated staining, workflow management platforms, and digital pathology solutions optimize laboratory efficiencies to reduce errors, support diagnosis and inform treatment decisions for anatomic pathology professionals. Together with Roche, VMSI is driving personalized medicine through accelerated drug discovery and the development of companion diagnostics to identify the patients most likely to respond favorably to specific therapies. Visit www.ventana.com to learn more.

VENTANA is a trademark of Roche.

About Aeterna Zentaris Inc.

Aeterna Zentaris is a late-stage oncology drug development company currently investigating potential treatments for various cancers including colorectal, multiple myeloma, endometrial, ovarian, prostate and bladder cancer. 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 www.aezsinc.com

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements made pursuant to the safe harbour provisions of the U.S. Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties that could cause the Company's actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements. Such risks and uncertainties include, among others, the availability of funds and resources to pursue R&D projects, the successful and timely completion of clinical studies, the risk that safety and efficacy data from any of our Phase 3 trials may not coincide with the data analyses from previously reported Phase 1 and/or Phase 2 clinical trials, the ability of the Company to take advantage of business opportunities in the pharmaceutical industry, uncertainties related to the regulatory process and general changes in economic conditions. Investors should consult the Company's quarterly and annual filings with the Canadian and U.S. securities commissions for additional information on risks and uncertainties relating to forward-looking statements. Investors are cautioned not to rely on these forward-looking statements. The Company does not undertake to update these forward-looking statements. We disclaim any obligation to update any such factors or to publicly announce the result of any revisions to any of the forward-looking statements contained herein to reflect future results, events or developments, unless required to do so by a governmental authority or by applicable law.

For further information:

Investor Relations
Ginette Beaudet Vallières
Investor Relations Coordinator
(418) 652-8525 ext. 265
gvallieres@aezsinc.com 

Chad Rubin
Vice President
The Trout Group LLC
(646) 378-2947
crubin@troutgroup.com

Media Relations
Paul Burroughs
Director of Communications
(418) 652-8525 ext. 406
pburroughs@aezsinc.com