• Cambridge Antibody Technology,of Cambridge, UK, part of London-based AstraZeneca plc, andPhilochem AG, of Zurich, Switzerland, signed a technology evaluation agreement for Philochem to apply its DNA-encoded libraries to the discovery of low molecular weight compounds against three undisclosed targets. Philochem will use its Encoded Self-Assembling Chemical (ESAC) libraries, in which chemical pharmacophores are displayed on DNA that contains an associated tag sequence and is selected by binding protein targets. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• GPC Biotech AG, of Martinsried, Germany, said the FDA accepted its new drug application for satraplatin in combination with prednisone hormone-refractory prostate cancer patients whose prior chemotherapy has failed, and the review should be complete in the middle of August because the agency granted the submission priority status. That designation, intended for products that address significant unmet medical needs, sets FDA action dates at six months from the date of submission, and GPC completed its filing on Feb. 15. GPC in-licensed satraplatin's global rights five years ago from Spectrum Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Irvine, Calif., and the agency's acceptance triggered a $4 million milestone payment to Spectrum. The drug's European filing is expected this quarter through a sub-licensor, Pharmion Corp., of Boulder, Colo.

• Hybrigenics SA, of Paris, reported promising preliminary results from its Phase I clinical trial of inecalcitol, a synthetic vitamin D analogue it is developing as a potential treatment for prostate cancer. No adverse side effects were observed at the initial dose, corroborating earlier trial results demonstrating inecalcitol's low toxicity in relation to calcitriol, the natural active metabolite of vitamin D3, which is undergoing a Phase III trial as a therapy for prostate cancer in association with Taxotere. The company is planning a Phase IIa trial of incalcitol later this year to determine the maximum dose that could be tolerated in patients suffering from prostate cancer that is resistant to anti-hormonal treatments. Hybrigenics acquired worldwide exclusive rights to inecalcitol under a licensing agreement signed in February 2006 with Theramex, a Monaco-based subsidiary of Merck KGaA, of Darmstadt, Germany, the University of Gent and the Catholic University of Leuven of Belgium. The company has rights to all clinical indications and is developing an oral formulation of the drug.

• LG Life Sciences Ltd., of Seoul, South Korea, and partner Anadys Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, presented preclinical data showing that ANA380 (LB80380) retains potency in vitro against multiple mutant strains of hepatitis B virus (HBV) that are resistant to other leading treatments. The companies are discussing the next steps for the oral small-molecule inhibitor of HBV polymerase, including a Phase IIb dose selection trial. The data were presented at the 42nd Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of the Liver.

• LibraGen, of Toulouse, France, launched its first family of active products obtained through the enzymatic transformation of natural substances. Utilizing its biocatalyst technology platform, which combines the use of its META-DNA metagenomics technology with the selection of accessible enzymes and cultivable microbes, LibraGen produces active compounds of natural origin that have been difficult to exploit up to now as a result of their physical and chemical properties. The first family of products is destined for the pharmaceutical, cosmetics and nutrition industries.

• Novosom AG, of Halle, Germany, has purchased an exclusive option from Isis Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Carlsbad, Calif., which, if exercised within six months, allows it to acquire a worldwide license to antisense inhibitors targeting the CD40 membrane protein for all indications. CD40 is a validated target for both inflammatory diseases and B-cell cancers, and Novosom plans to target CD40 for indications such as Crohn's disease, transplant, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer and multiple sclerosis. The license would include rights to the target and to oligonucleotides targeting CD40 and incorporating Isis' second-generation antisense chemistry, 2' MOE oligonucleotides in exchange for financial considerations including an up-front exercise fee, milestone payments and royalties, which were not disclosed.

• ProBioGen AG, of Berlin, entered an agreement to develop a biopharmaceutical cell line to produce a therapeutic cancer antibody belonging to Affitech AS, of Oslo, Norway. More specifically, ProBioGen will apply its cell generation process that relies on unique vectors and its pre-optimized CHO starter cell. That will be combined with an automated cloning process to identify and develop a high producer line, which should be suitable for a fed-batch development process. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• PSivida Ltd., of Perth, Australia, is selling subsidiary Aion Diagnostics Inc. to portfolio management company GEM Global Yield Fund for $3 million. Aion holds the exclusive license for pSivida's BioSilicon nanostructured porous silicon technology in non-electronic imaging diagnostic applications, from which pSivida will receive royalties on any commercialized products. PSivida's nanotech drug delivery technologies are used in a variety of approved and clinical-stage cancer and eye disease products.

• Qiagen NV, of Venlo, the Netherlands, said its subsidiary Qiagen North American Holdings Inc. agreed to acquire eGene Inc., of Irvine, Calif., for $34 million in cash and stock. The deal has been approved by the boards of both companies and is expected to close in the third quarter. Qiagen provides sample and assay technologies, while eGene has sample separation and analysis technology based on capillary electrophoresis.

• Shanghai Wanxiang, of Shanghai, China, has signed a technical cooperation agreement with Blue Blood Biotech Corp., of Taiwan, under which Blue Blood will pay it $400,000 to conduct a development investigation into the mass production of recombinant NEFG protein. NEFG is the first protein drug to stimulate angiogenesis, the development of new blood vessels. The drug, developed to treat diabetes patients, will undergo clinical testing with assistance from a biotechnology program under the Taiwan's Ministry of Economic Affairs

• Sinclair Pharma plc, of Godalming, UK, said it has applied to move from London's Alternative Investment Market to the main market. At the same time, the company said it also is joining Euronext Paris. The company said the move to the main market in London is appropriate to its stage of growth, and is expected to increase liquidity and enhance Sinclair's domestic and international profile, while the secondary listing on Euronext reflects its increasing commercial presence in mainland Europe.

• SkyePharma plc, of London, said the FDA has accepted for filing the application by its partner, GlaxoSmithKline, of London, for REQUIP XL 24-Hour Extended-Release Tablets, the proposed brand name for a once-daily formulation of ropinirole for treating Parkinson's disease. The new formulation is designed to provide a steady rate of absorption in the body to help reduce blood plasma fluctuations over 24 hours. Ropinirole is a non-ergot dopamine agonist currently marketed as REQUIP (ropinirole HCl) Tablets for the treatment of idiopathic Parkinson's disease and is administered three times a day.

• VASTox plc, of Oxford, UK, said the U.S. Patent Office granted a patent on its Utrophin Gene Promoter technology, which provides additional protection to its drug discovery program in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). The company's approach to that disease is to use the promoter technology to increase levels of a protein called utrophin to replace the very similar protein, dystrophin which is missing in DMD patients. The absence of dystrophin leads to severe muscle wasting and ultimately is fatal for all sufferers. VASTox said it remains on target to take a drug candidate into pre-clinical development by the end of June 2007.