• A&G Pharmaceutical, of Columbia, Md., said the Avon Foundation Breast Cancer Prevention Research Initiative has awarded A&G an $870,000 grant to conduct multicenter clinical studies on measuring levels of A&G's breast cancer biomarker GP88 in blood and tissue samples from breast cancer patients. Results of the studies could provide the basis for developing a blood test that would enable early detection of breast cancer. The award was one of 12 grants totaling more than $7 million awarded by the Avon Foundation.

• Advanced Life Sciences Holdings Inc., of Chicago, completed its previously announced private placement of 10.2 million shares of common stock priced at $1.90 per share along with five-year warrants to purchase an additional 5.1 million shares at $2.15 per share. The deal generated approximately $20 million in gross proceeds, which will be used to pursue a commercial partnership and new drug application filing for the antibiotic cethromycin, which generated positive Phase III data last month. Lazard Freres & Co. LLC acted as the lead placement agent for the deal, with Susquehanna Financial Group and CRT Capital Group LLC acting as co-placement agents. (See BioWorld Today, Nov. 16, 2007.)

• F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd., of Basel, Switzerland, said the European Committee on Human Medicinal Products issued a positive recommendation to extend the label for MabThera to include its use, in combination with any chemotherapy, as a first-line treatment for follicular non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. MabThera (rituximab) is sold as Rituxan in the U.S. by South San Francisco-based Genentech Inc. and Cambridge, Mass.-based Biogen Idec Inc.

• Medivir, of Huddinge, Sweden, has qualified for two milestone payments totaling €17 million (US $24.5 million) under a collaboration with Tibotec Pharmaceuticals Ltd., of Cork, Ireland, to develop HCV NS3/4A Protease Inhibitors for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. Under the November 2004 agreement, Medivir has achieved a clinical milestone and secured a payment of €5 million. The second payment is due because Medivir has opted to decline a contractual opportunity to obtain from Tibotec, at some point in the future, the marketing rights for an approved pharmaceutical in the Nordic countries. In return Tibotec will make a cash payment of €12 million. The drug candidate, TMC435350, recently advanced into Phase II.

• Neurochem International Ltd., of Ecublens, Switzerland, said the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP), the scientific committee of the European Medicines Agency, recommended refusal of the marketing authorization application for eprodisate (KIACTA) for the treatment of amyloid A amyloidosis, concluding that another study is needed to demonstrate effectiveness. The company said it is reviewing all options, including requesting a re-examination by CHMP. The company may request that the CHMP consult a scientific advisory group for a re-examination.

• Pronova BioPharma ASA , of Lysaker, Norway, has entered into a worldwide license and development agreement with FMC Corp., of Philadelphia, to develop products using a novel capsule technology. The proprietary alginate-based capsule technology is expected to strengthen the product life-cycle management of Pronova products and has the potential for use both with the company's Omacor in Europe and Lovaza in the U.S. as well as in future products under development. FMC will apply its technology to Pronova BioPharma's products while Pronova BioPharma will be responsible for clinical development and for securing regulatory approval. Pronova BioPharma plans to initiate clinical trials in early 2009 and launch of the new capsule is anticipated in 2010 or 2011.

• RXi Pharmaceuticals Corp., of Worcester, Mass, has been granted an exclusive license from Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc., of Newington, N.H., for RNA interference (RNAi) sequences to an undisclosed number of target genes, with an initial focus in the areas of Type II diabetes, obesity, neurology and oncology, for the ongoing development of RXi's rxRNA compounds. The RNAi sequences selected against the target genes were generated by the company's Thermo Scientific Dharmacon RNAi sequence selection algorithm and include approximately 100 functional RNAi sequences per gene. RXi obtained the right to license, under the same terms, additional RNAi sequences disclosed by Thermo Fisher Scientific in its pending patent applications against additional target genes. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• ValiRx, of London, has completed Phase I of its collaboration with Physiomics plc, of Oxford, UK. Under the collaboration Physiomics' In Silico simulation technology has been successfully coupled with ValiRx's GeneICE technology to generate a cancer cell death model - the Apoptosis Model. This model will be used to accelerate ValiRx's internal development programs and as an R&D tool to be licensed out to third parties.

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