• Affibody AB, of Stockholm, Sweden, entered a research agreement with GE Healthcare, a division of the General Electric Co., of Fairfield, Conn. Under the agreement, Affibody will provide molecules for three disease targets as defined by GE Healthcare to allow early diagnosis of disease to optimize therapy on a personalized basis. Under the agreement, GE Healthcare has the exclusive option to take any licenses required for developing and commercializing imaging agents resulting from the collaboration.

• BTG plc, of London, said it will go it alone on a U.S. Phase II trial of Varisolve, its injectable foam treatment for varicose veins after failing to find a U.S. partner. The product has completed a European Phase III study in 435 patients, but the FDA would not let U.S. development go ahead until a safety study was completed showing there could be no complications from the microbubbles in Varisolve for people with the heart defect patent foramen ovale.

• Debiopharm Group, of Lausanne, Switzerland, and Sigma-Tau Industrie Farmaceutiche Riunite SpA, of Rome, signed a research and development and commercialization license agreement for istaroxime, a first-in-class luso-inotropic agent in clinical Phase II trials for acute heart failure syndromes. Under the terms, Debiopharm has the right to develop and commercialize istaroxime worldwide except in Italy and has an option to acquire similar rights on istaroxime follow-on compounds. Debiopharm will pay an up-front license fee and milestones to Sigma-Tau, and will fund the future clinical development costs. When Debiopharm finishes Phase II, Sigma-Tau may exercise its semi-exclusive rights to market istaroxime in Spain and France and exclusive rights in Portugal. Royalties will accrue to both firms.

• Discovery Partners International Inc., of San Diego, and Galapagos NV, of Mechelen, Belgium, entered a definitive purchase agreement to transfer all of the drug discovery service operations of DPI to Galapagos for €4.25 million (US$5.4 million) in cash. The acquisition includes the assets of all four of DPI's drug discovery service sites: San Diego; South San Francisco; Allschwill, Switzerland; and Heidelberg, Germany; as well as the company's sales office in Tokyo. DPI will sell to Galapagos all of the outstanding capital stock or equity interests of its direct subsidiaries Discovery Partners International AG, ChemRx Advanced Technologies Inc., Xenometrix Inc. and Discovery Partners International LLC, along with certain contracts. The transaction is expected to close in July.

• ExonHit Therapeutics SA, of Paris, placed 1 million existing shares with European institutional investors and retail investors in France, rather than the 2 million it originally planned to sell. It cut the number sold due to "the deterioration in stock market conditions." The operation has increased the free float of the company's shares to 16.2 percent.

• MAT Biopharma SA, of Evry, France, and AlgoNomics NV, of Ghent, Belgium, entered a research collaboration to use AlgoNomics' structural bioinformatics platform to help MAT in its research related to the structural analysis of antibody leads. The agreement is focused on increasing the potential immunogenicity of antibodies against hematological cancer and some solid cancers. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• NeuTec Pharma plc, of Manchester, UK, said it completed recruitment of its Phase III trial of Aurograb, an antibody treatment for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Results are expected by the end of 2006. Earlier this month NeuTec agreed to be bought by Novartis AG for £305 million (US$569 million) cash.

• Rosetta Genomics Ltd., of Rehovot, Israel, signed a licensing agreement with Rockefeller University to gain access to nearly 180 microRNAs. Those will be added to Rosetta's microRNA database, providing additional biomarker candidates for its diagnostic development programs. Under the terms, Rosetta will pay an initiation fee, as well as maintenance fees and royalties.

• Sareum Holdings, of Cambridge, UK, agreed to a collaboration with Sirtis Pharmaceuticals, of Cambridge, Mass., to uses its structure-based drug design technology to accelerate discovery research at Sirtis. Sareum will receive undisclosed research fees and milestone payments.

• Sigma-Aldrich Corp., of St. Louis, and Oxford BioMedica, of Oxford, UK, filed a lawsuit against Open Biosystems Inc., of Huntsville, Ala., for infringement of patents that cover key lentiviral-based systems for delivery of foreign DNA to a broad array of mammalian cells. The complaint, which was filed in U.S. District Court Eastern District of Missouri, alleges that Open Biosystems is infringing U.S. Patent Nos. 6,924,123 and 7,056,699. Rights to the patents, both titled Lentiviral LTR Deleted Vector, were exclusively licensed for research use to Sigma-Aldrich by Oxford BioMedica in October 2005. The suit states that, among other products, Open Biosystems' Lentiviral shRNAmir Library is marketed and sold to researchers and research institutions for incorporation into viral particles that infringe one or more claims of the patents.

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