• Alfacell Corp., of Bloomfield, N.J., signed a collaboration with the West German Cancer Center at the University of Duisburg-Essen for the development, characterization and large-scale production of a fusion protein for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The fusion protein consists of Onconase (ranpirnase) and a humanized anti-CD22 monoclonal antibody. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• Antitope Ltd., of Cambridge, UK, and VasGene Therapeutics Inc., of Los Angeles, generated two therapeutic antibodies to complete its collaboration targeting proliferative vascular diseases. Antitope applied its Composite Human Antibody technology to targets identified by VasGene, resulting in antibodies that inhibit pathways common to most vascular growth factors that are produced in cancer and vascular diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration.

• Applied Biosystems Group, of Foster City, Calif., completed its previously announced acquisition of Beverly, Mass.-based Agencourt Personal Genomics, a developer of next-generation genetic analysis technologies, for about $120 million in cash. The APG research and development team will continue to be based in Beverly, and will report to the Molecular and Cell Biology division of Applied Biosystems. (See BioWorld Today, May 31, 2006.)

• F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd., of Basel, Switzerland, gained European approval for MabThera (rituximab) in rheumatoid arthritis in combination with methotrexate. MabThera is sold as Rituxan in the U.S. by South San Francisco-based Genentech Inc. and Cambridge, Mass.-based Biogen Idec Inc., which partnered with Roche for European development and commercialization. In separate news, Roche reported that the European commission also approved an expanded label for MabThera as maintenance therapy for patients with relapsed or refractory follicular non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The drug previously gained approval in the European Union as a first-line treatment of both aggressive and indolent NHL in combination with chemotherapy, and a second-line monotherapy in indolent NHL.

• INEX Pharmaceuticals Corp., of Vancouver, said it is revising arrangements to spin out Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corp. so that INEX shareholders would own 100 percent of Tekmira and Tekmira would own 100 percent of INEX's technology, cash, products and partnership alliances. Following the spin-out, current INEX shareholders would own 20 percent of the equity of INEX, which no longer would hold any pharmaceutical assets. An investor group plans to raise additional capital for INEX, with the goal of acquiring a new business.

• Lexicon Genetics Inc., of The Woodlands, Texas, was granted an exclusive, worldwide license from Cellectis SA, of Romainville, France, covering technology for the specific replacement or insertion of a gene in a eukaryotic genome. The license applies to the use of Cellectis' technology in combination with internal ribosome entry site or isogenic DNA technology in the generation of genetically modified mice.

• Myogen Inc., of Denver, extended by two years its research collaboration with Novartis AG, of Basel, Switzerland, for the discovery and development of novel drugs for heart muscle disease. The collaboration began in September 2003. Novartis now will provide research funding through October 2008 in exchange for rights to license compounds developed under the collaboration. The agreement includes milestone payments and royalty payments. Myogen retains an option to enter into a co-promotion and profit-sharing agreement in the cardiac field in certain markets.

• Xencor Inc., of Monrovia, Calif., raised $6 million in a bridge financing by new investor Novo Nordisk A/S, of Bagsvaerd, Denmark, and existing investors, including Zen Investments. Novo Nordisk also committed to invest an additional $6 million in specified future financings. Proceeds will be used to advance Xencor's development candidates, XPro 1595 for inflammatory diseases, and XmAb 2513 for Hodgkin's disease, as well as to further exploit its Protein Design Automation technology platform. To date, Xencor has raised more than $90 million.

No Comments