AmVac AG, of Zug, Switzerland, has entered licensing deals with Max Planck Innovation GmbH, the technology transfer agency of the Max Planck Society and the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research in Braunschweig, Germany, to develop new vaccines.

In the Max Planck deal, AmVac obtains the exclusive right to further develop and commercialize a technology for the design and production of a new class of vaccines with improved safety and efficacy. From the Helmholtz Centre, AmVac gets exclusive rights to develop and commercialize a synthetic lipopeptide called MALP-2 and its derivatives as vaccine adjuvants.

In return, both Max Planck Innovation and Helmholtz received upfront and milestone payments, as well as royalties on future sales. In addition, each company obtained an equity stake in AmVac. Financial details were not disclosed.

The technology AmVac obtained works by modifying the backbone of Sendai Virus (a pathogen which does not affect humans), which allows creation of a new vaccine prototype that cannot replicate but effectively induces host cells to produce an antigen of choice. In preclinical studies using various animal models, scientists demonstrated that MALP-2 can effectively enhance immune responses when co-administered with vaccines by either the parenteral or mucosal route.

AmVac said the first project to be initiated with the exclusively in-licensed technology will be a vaccine against RSV (respiratory syncytial virus).

BioLineRx Gets Cancer Drug

BioLineRx Ltd., of Jerusalem, has signed a worldwide exclusive license agreement with Yissum, the technology transfer company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Hadasit, the technology transfer company of Hadassah medical organization, to development and commercialize BL-4060, a small molecule drug candidate for the treatment of cancer. Financial terms were not disclosed.

BL-4060 is an analog of the fatty molecule ceramide indicated for the treatment of cancer. Ceramide is a strong pro-apoptotic agent that induces apoptosis in a variety of cancer cells. Ceramide levels in cancer cells are generally too low to have the desired therapeutic effect. In preclinical studies to date, BL-4060 treatment resulted in an elevation of ceramide levels in cancer cells, leading to the formation of cytotoxic agents that cause apoptosis. In addition, the BioLineRx said BL-4060 appears to be synergistic with commercial chemotherapies. The company said preclinical studies demonstrated that BL-4060 considerably reduced the sizes of pancreatic, prostate and breast tumors.

Medicis In Botulinum Deal

Medicis, of Scottsdale, Ariz., has made a $20 million equity investment in Revance Therapeutics Inc., of Mountain View, Calif., and purchased an option to acquire Revance or to license exclusive North America rights to Revance's topical botulinum toxin type A product currently in Phase II testing.

The option period extends through the end of Phase II testing in the U.S. In exchange, Medicis will receive preferred stock equivalent to nearly 10 percent ownership in Revance on a fully diluted basis. The Medicis investment is part of a $43.2 million closing of a Series C financing completed by Revance. Other investors in this financing included returning investors, Essex Woodlands Healthcare Ventures, Vivo Ventures, Technology Partners, Shepherd Ventures, and Palo Alto Investors. Leerink Swann LLC acted as sole placement agent.

Additionally, Medicis has committed to make up to $5 million in an additional equity investment in Revance under certain terms and before exercise of an option to acquire Revance or to exclusively license its topical botulinum toxin. Separately, the two companies agreed to exclusive negotiations about a development program relating to Revance's drug delivery technology to other agents and targets.

For the time being Revance will remain primarily responsible for the product development, in consultation with Medicis. If either a merger or license results, Medicis will assume primary responsibility for development. If a license results, Medicis would make a payment to Revance, plus make milestone payments related to clinical, regulatory and commercial achievements, and pay royalties based on sales.

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