• Bio-Rad Laboratories Inc., of Hercules, Calif., acquired Haifa, Israel-based ProteOptics Ltd., a developer of surface plasmon resonance technology. This acquisition is intended to extend Bio-Rad’s proteomics product offerings to focus on making the study of protein-to-protein interaction more accessible to a broader base of users. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• Chiron Inc., of Emeryville, Calif., said Berlin-based Schering AG provided formal notice of its intention to exercise its option under a collaboration agreement to purchase or lease all assets used by Chiron in the manufacture of Betaseron interferon beta-1b products, plus all contractual rights at their fair market or lease value. This option is subject to the closing of Chiron’s proposed acquisition by Basel, Switzerland-based Novartis AG, and the value of the agreement will be determined by an independent third party. Novartis offered $5.1 billion to buy out remaining shares of Chiron in late October, and the deal is expected to close this year. In separate news, Chiron entered a supply contract with the UK government for pre-pandemic influenza vaccine for a stockpile based on the H5N1 avian flu strain. Delivery of the stockpile remains subject to internal and regulatory release procedures. The company, which previously agreed to deliver H5N1 vaccine for the U.S. government’s stockpile, recently was granted an extension on delivery terms. Chiron is producing this stockpile at its Liverpool, UK, facility, and expects to complete about 70 percent of the order before turning operations to annual production of Fluvirin flu virus vaccine, then finishing the flu vaccine production in the fall. (See BioWorld Today, Nov. 1, 2005.)

• CollaGenex Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Newtown, Pa., filed a marketing authorization application for Oracea with the UK’s Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency. A new drug application for Oracea was filed with the FDA last August and has a PDUFA date of May 31. If approved, Oracea will be the first orally administered, systemically delivered drug developed to treat rosacea.

• Genetic Technologies Ltd., of Melbourne, Australia, formed a strategic alliance with MetaMorphix Inc., of Beltsville, Md., to explore joint commercialization of overlapping opportunities in human health and diagnostics, as well as animal genetics and genomics applications. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• Genmab A/S, of Copenhagen, Denmark, delivered a HuMax-TAC cell line to partner Serono SA, of Geneva, triggering a $1 million milestone payment to Genmab. The companies agreed to collaborate in May 2005 on the development and commercialization of Genmab’s HuMax-TAC, a fully human monoclonal antibody that is in preclinical testing against T-cell mediated diseases. Under the agreement, Genmab received an up-front fee of $2 million, and is entitled to potential milestone payments of up to $38 million, plus royalties. (See BioWorld Today, May 4, 2005.)

• Symbollon Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Framingham, Mass., said it intends to enhance its core business strategy by developing a family of broad-spectrum antimicrobial products based on its free molecular iodine platform technology aimed at eradicating pathogens without drug resistance. The company will focus on placing one new drug into clinical trials each of the next several years, starting with Nasodine, a formulation to eliminate Staphylococcus aureus in the nasal cavity.

• ViroPharma Inc., of Exton, Pa., entered a licensing agreement with the Hines VA Hospital in Chicago for the rights to develop non-toxigenic strains of C. difficile for the treatment and prevention of C. difficile-associated disease (CDAD). ViroPharma plans to focus initially on preventing recurrence of CDAD following treatment with Vancocin, and is conducting feasibility studies. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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