• ACE BioSciences A/S, of Odense, Denmark, and Nordic Vaccine A/S, of Copenhagen, Denmark, agreed to develop fast-acting vaccines, which could provide better protection to patients and can be delivered in parenteral, patch or oral formulations. Initial work in the collaboration will focus on ACE BioSciences’ vaccines for travelers’ diarrhea caused by Campylobacter, using Nordic Vaccine’s non-alum adjuvants to enhance the protection afforded by the developmental vaccine. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• Alchemia Ltd., of Brisbane, Australia, said it plans to merge with Meditech Research Ltd., of Melbourne, Australia, by way of an off-market takeover bid. The merger proposal has the unanimous support of the Meditech board. Alchemia is offering one share for every nine Meditech shares, valuing Meditech at $16.9 million. Meditech has a product in Phase II trials in metastatic colorectal cancer patients and two anticancer products that have completed Phase I trials.

• Antisoma plc, of London, signed an agreement to evaluate early stage cancer compounds from Brisbane, Australia-based EcoBiotics Ltd. Under the terms, Antisoma will choose up to three compounds from EcoBiotics’ portfolio to evaluate during the next year, and will have rights to license up to two of the compounds. Specific terms were not disclosed. EcoBiotics’ work focuses on molecules derived from tropical rainforest plants.

• BioSystems International, of Evry, France, gained an exclusive, worldwide license to Northeastern University’s monoclonal antibody-based biomarker discovery and development platform. Under the agreement, BSI will use the Boston-based university’s platform for biomarker and drug target discovery, validation, development and commercialization. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• Compugen Ltd., of Tel Aviv, Israel, said it is leading a consortium for the development of a platform to simulate the MAP-kinase pathway, a signaling pathway related to cancer. The consortium is funded by the European Commission, which allocated €3.1 million (US$3.7 million) over a three-year period.

• Crucell NV, of Leiden, the Netherlands, and allied contract manufacturer DSM Biologics said they signed a PER.C6 research license agreement with UMN Pharma, of Akita, Japan. The agreement allows UMN to use the cell line in its UMN-03 project, which aims to employ a fusion protein in the treatment of muscular dystrophy and metabolic diseases, such as obesity and Type II diabetes mellitus. UMN will pay a signing fee and annual maintenance fees, though specific financial terms were not disclosed.

• Eirx Therapeutics plc, of Cork, Ireland, and Almac Diagnostics Ltd., of Craigavon, Northern Ireland, secured €400,000 (US$478 million) from InterTrade Ireland, a publicly funded body that supports cooperation between companies on both sides of the Irish border, to support a research alliance in colorectal cancer. The companies aim to develop and commercialize intellectual property by combining Eirx’s Alibi apoptosis modeling platform with Almac’s genetic microarrays.

• Epigenomics AG, of Berlin, reported positive results from an investigation of its early stage breast cancer biomarker. The study showed that the marker can help make prognoses that affect treatment decisions. Epigenomics previously had demonstrated a correlation between the presence of low levels of PITX2 gene methylation and low risk of metastasis development, and vice versa, in prostate cancer patients and in patients with node-negative, hormone-receptor positive breast cancer. The present study investigated 395 breast cancer patients suffering from node-positive cancers.

• Evotec AG, of Hamburg, Germany, identified leads for a receptor target provided by Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH, of Ingelheim, Germany. The result triggered an undisclosed milestone payment from Boehringer. It was the second time in 18 months that Evotec reached a milestone in the companies’ research collaboration.

• IP2IPO Group plc, signed new agreements with the universities of Manchester and York. Under the deal with Manchester, the life science subsidiary of IP2IPO, Modern Biosciences (MBS), will work with the university to identify and assess drug discovery research that is suitable for commercialization. MBS will invest in opportunities and take on responsibility for the development and commercialization of appropriate IP. The deal with York involves a 25-year partnership in which IP2IPO has agreed to invest £5 million (US$8.6 million) in spin-out companies in return for a share in the equity and will receive 10 percent of income York receives from licensing also. The partnership is in addition to IP2IPO’s existing relationship with the Centre for Novel Agricultural Products at York University.

• Mymetics Corp., of Nyon, Switzerland, said the National Institutes of Health agreed to initiate testing of the company’s HIV-AIDS mucosal prophylactic vaccine candidate. The preclinical study will test the vaccine in non-human primates, and will take place in parallel to Mymetics’ ongoing preclinical trial in another primate model.

• NeuroSearch A/S, of Ballerup, Denmark, said chief financial officer Flemming Pedersen will assume the role of company president and CEO, replacing Jørgen Buus Lassen, at the company’s annual general meeting on April 25. Lassen will continue to serve as the company’s drug discovery and drug development organization.

• Oxford BioMedica plc, of Oxford, UK, said VIRxSYS Corp., of Gaithersburg, Md., licensed its VSV-G viral envelope technology for gene delivery. Under this agreement, VIRxSYS gains rights to use that technology in the production process of an HIV/AIDS product, VRX496, which is in Phase II studies. Oxford BioMedica will receive an up-front license fee, annual maintenance payments, and be entitled to clinical and regulatory milestones and royalties. Further financial terms were not disclosed.

• ReNeuron Group plc, of Guildford, UK, said it completed scale-up and cell banking of its lead ReN001 stem cell product for treating the chronic effects of stroke. The cell banks contain the vials of ReN001 cells from which all future supplies for clinical trials and for commercial sale eventually will be grown. The company said that will avoid the need to re-derive cells from source material at any stage, reducing risk, cost and time from the development pathway.

• Sinovac Biotech Ltd., of Beijing, entered a deal with LG Life Sciences Ltd., of Seoul, South Korea, under which Sinovac will act as LGLS’s exclusive distributor for its hepatitis B vaccine in the Peoples Republic of China. In February, LGL and partner Anadys Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, reported strong data from a Phase II trial with ANA380 against chronic hepatitis B virus, a compound for which Basel, Switzerland-based Novartis AG holds a license option. (See BioWorld Today, Feb. 16, 2006.)

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