• Antisoma plc, of London, presented preclinical data at the American Association of Cancer Research meeting showing a combination of its compound, AS1404, and Avastin (Genentech Inc.) was more effective than Avastin alone in inhibiting the growth of human colon and lung tumor xenografts. AS1404 is in three Phase II trials in combination with chemotherapy. In colon cancer xenografts, Avastin added 17 days to tumor quadrupling time and AS1404 added 29. Tumors treated with both drugs took 40 days longer than controls to quadruple in size. The company said the data support combining vascular disrupting drugs like AS1404 with anti-angiogenic drugs such as Avastin that inhibit the growth of new vessels in tumors.

• BioInvent International AB, of Lund, Sweden, and Immusol Inc., of San Diego, agreed to collaborate on the development of a fully human n-CoDeR antibody for the treatment of age-related macular degeneration and other ophthalmic disorders. Immusol will contribute its work in ophthalmology and intellectual property rights covering the use of antagonists against a biological identified to play a role in the underlying pathological process of AMD. BioInvent will provide its knowledge and experience in angiogenesis, immunology and therapeutic antibody discovery and development. The companies will share costs and revenues in further development and commercialization.

• Can-Fite BioPharma Ltd., of Petach Tikva, Israel, signed a memorandum of understanding with an undisclosed Japanese company for out-licensing rights to use Can-Fite's CF101 for treatment of inflammatory diseases in Japan. Subject to a definitive agreement, expected within a few months, the license will provide the Japanese company with exclusive use of CF101, both oral and intravenous administration, in Japan and, subject to negotiations, other Asian countries. Financial terms are expected to include an up-front licensing fee, milestone payments, clinical development funding and royalties.

• ChemDiv Inc., of San Diego, and Carna Biosciences Inc., of Kobe, Japan, entered a collaboration to develop and market annotated kinase-focused libraries targeting kinases for various pathways and disease. ChemDiv's chemistry permits small-molecule drug development for such kinases, while Carna's background in kinase assay development and profiling provides rapid screening results for an added annotated component to ChemDiv's kinase libraries. The agreement's financial terms were not disclosed.

• ExonHit Therapeutics SA, of Paris, and bioMérieux SA, of Marcy l'Etoile, France, will report breast cancer diagnostic data at next week's American Association for Cancer Research meeting in Washington, showing that a panel of genetic signatures identified by ExonHit clearly can distinguish healthy women from those with early stage breast cancer. A total of 54 genes were able to correctly classify - with 86.7 percent accuracy - 55 women with Stage I/II breast cancer from a group of 92 women. The remaining 37 were healthy. A prospective multicenter study in 1,000 women is under way to validate the specificity and selectivity of the markers identified. In the companies' 3-year-old collaboration, ExonHit will receive research and development payments from bioMérieux as well as development milestone payments for each diagnostic project. ExonHit also would receive royalties.

• FIT Biotech Oyj, of Tampere, Finland, started a Phase II trial of its therapeutic, DNA-based HIV vaccine, in treatment-na ve HIV-infected subjects in South Africa. It is undertaking the study in collaboration with the Perinatal HIV Research Unit at the University of the Witwatersrand, in Johannesburg, South Africa. The company previously completed a Phase I trial of the vaccine in Finland.

• Galapagos NV, of Mechelen, Belgium, entered through its service division, BioFocus, into a three-year collaboration with F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd., of Basel, Switzerland. The new deal builds on the working history between Roche and BioFocus, the company said. BioFocus will supply Roche with exclusive chemical compound libraries. Financial terms were not disclosed. In addition, BioFocus has entered a three-year target discovery alliance with Arthrogen BV, a joint venture of the Dubai Bone & Joint Center and the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The alliance focuses on identifying novel targets for gene therapy applications in rheumatoid arthritis. BioFocus will extend its SilenceSelect collection with new gene sets, set up cellular assays and screen the expanded collection in the assays. The human protein targets identified will be characterized and validated. Galapagos will receive an up-front payment and research and development funding, and it will be eligible for development milestones, all of which could total more than €7.5 million (US$9.1 million) for each target.

• IP2IPO Group plc, of London, is changing its name to IP Group plc to better reflect its activities. The company said generating value from university IP happened by different routes, not just through IPOs, and the new name is therefore more appropriate. At the same time, the company announced it is dividing the share capital through a 5-fpr-1 split, in which every 10-pence share will be split into five 2-pence shares.

• Madaus Srl, of Padova, Italy, and Depomed Inc., of Menlo Park, Calif., said the marketing authorization application for ProQuin XR was accepted for review by the Medical Products Agency in Sweden. Madaus submitted the MAA earlier this year, seeking approval to treat uncomplicated urinary tract infections. ProQuin XR is a once-daily, prolonged release formulation of ciprofloxacin hydrochloride.

• MorphoSys AG, of Munich, Germany, raised about €17.1 million (US$20.6 million) to expand the research antibody side of its business. The company placed 384,338 shares to international institutional investors, at €44.50 per share. WestLB AG acted as lead manager of the transaction, and DZ Bank AG acted as co-lead manager. MorphoSys' cash balance is about €60 million.

• Navamedic ASA, of Oslo, Norway, listed its shares Friday on the city's stock exchange, Oslo Børs, without raising any new cash. The specialty pharmaceutical company obtained regulatory approval in Sweden for Glucomed, its formulation of glucosamine, for treating osteoarthritis in 2005 and is in the process of obtaining approval in other EU states under the mutual recognition procedure. So far an additional 19 EU member states have approved the product.

• Primagen Holding BV, of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, was selected to participate in the European Union-funded GRACE (Genomics to combat Resistance to Antibiotics in Community-acquired lower respiratory tract infections in Europe) project. Primagen's expertise will be used to screen samples of patients with respiratory tract infections to identify viruses associated with respiratory tract infections.

• TiGenix NV, of Leuven, Belgium, established TiGenix Inc. and opened its first U.S. office in New York. Recently, TiGenix Inc. announced its collaboration with the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, which will assist in further developing ChondroCelect, its lead cartilage repair product, a cell-based therapy focusing on durable repair of cartilage defects of the knee. With a U.S. presence, TiGenix said it will continue building domestic partnerships with leading medical institutions. Meanwhile, TiGenix is finishing its Phase III trial in Europe for ChondroCelect. Once data from the clinical trial are analyzed, TiGenix plans to work on necessary filings with the FDA.

• Tripep AB, of Huddinge, Sweden, said it is likely to discontinue development of its anti-HIV drug candidate alpha-HGA, following data from a Phase I/II placebo-controlled clinical trial in Thailand, which indicated that the compound did not lead to a significant decrease in HIV levels in patients' serum. The company now plans to focus on its hepatitis C project, ChronVac-C.