• Ablynx NV, of Ghent, Belgium, signed a research collaboration and license agreement with Kirin Brewery Inc., of Tokyo, to collaborate on a defined project that exploits the unique structural and functional properties of Ablynx’s Nanobodies for use as novel therapeutics. Neither the specific objectives nor the financial terms were disclosed.

• Allergy Therapeutics plc, of Worthing, UK, commenced a Phase I/II trial of MPL103, a sublingually administered allergic rhinitis vaccine. The aim is to demonstrate that an existing product, modified by addition of the adjuvant monophosphoryl lipid A (MPL), will elicit a strong immune response when administered by that delivery route. The study, being carried out in Germany, will recruit 80 patients who are allergic to grass pollen. MPL, a Toll-like receptor 4 agonist has been tested in several vaccines, and one product, Fendrix, a treatment against Hepatitis A developed by GlaxoSmithKline plc, was approved in Europe in 2005

• Avidis SA, of Paris, signed an evaluation agreement in the field of veterinary vaccines with Novartis Animal Health, a division of Basel, Switzerland-based Novartis AG, which will use aXent to immunize without the use of adjuvants. The agreement covers the use of aXent for a bovine infectious disease with the possibility of acquiring exclusive rights through further license agreements.

• BioLineRx Ltd., of Jerusalem, and Optimata Ltd., of Ramat Gan, Israel, signed a deal under which the initial project will be the biosimulation of BioLineRx’s patented BL-1020 for schizophrenia. The work will draw upon Optimata’s biomathematical and disease modeling expertise, and aim to show how Virtual Patient can help shorten preclinical development time and guide clinical trials.

• Biovitrum AB, of Stockholm, Sweden, and Amgen Inc., of Thousand Oaks, Calif., expanded their existing agreement under which Amgen now will get exclusive worldwide rights to develop and commercialize Biovitrum’s small-molecule 11beta-HSD1 enzyme inhibitors for metabolic diseases and certain other medical disorders. The original deal, disclosed in September 2003, gave Amgen the exclusive right to commercialize products in North and South America, the European Union, Australia and New Zealand. Under the expanded terms, Amgen has exclusive worldwide rights to commercialize all developed products, while Biovitrum retains co-promotion rights in the Nordic region for all products. Amgen will pay an undisclosed amount up front for the expanded territory.

• CSL Ltd., of Melbourne, Australia, said it plans to introduce its influenza vaccine into the U.S. market. The company said it would make a $60 million investment in plant and equipment to double capacity at its home facility to about 40 million doses per season. CSL plans to begin a clinical study of the vaccine later this year and submit a biologics license application within 12 months for both multidose vial and thimerosal-free single-dose syringe products.

• EQiTX Ltd., of Melbourne, Australia, completed a placement of 2.4 million shares at A20 cents (US14 cents) per share, raising A$480,000 to provide working capital, bringing the total capital raised in February to about A$1.2 million. The company is focused on chronic diseases and age-related conditions.

• Helsinn Healthcare SA, of Lugano, Switzerland, signed an agreement granting Therabel Pharma, of Bruxelles, Belgium, exclusive rights to distribute, market, and sell Aloxi (palonesetron hydrochloride) in France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Aloxi, a second-generation serotonin (5HT3) antagonist, already is commercialized in the U.S. to treat chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• MNLpharma Ltd., of Aberystwyth, UK, exclusively licensed to Avexa Ltd., of Melbourne, Australia, rights to develop and commercialize a number of HIV integrase inhibitors identified from MNLpharma’s Phytopure library. Under the terms, Avexa will fund the optimization, preclinical, and clinical development and commercialization of any resulting products, and MNLpharma will be entitled to milestones and royalties. Specific terms were not disclosed.

• Neurochem Ltd., of Ecublens, Switzerland, a wholly owned subsidiary of Laval, Quebec-based Neurochem Inc., submitted the final modules of its new drug application for Fibrillex (eprodisate) in amyloid A amyloidosis. The submission completes the rolling NDA that was initiated in August. Fibrillex is partnered with Centocor Inc., of Malvern, Pa. (See BioWorld Today, Aug. 23, 2005.)

• NovImmune SA, of Geneva, named Mahdi Farhan chief medical officer with immediate effect. Farhan was previously a clinical scientist and clinical team leader at F. Hoffman La-Roche Ltd., of Basel, Switzerland, and also held responsibility for in-licensing compounds in the anti-inflammatory therapeutic area.

• ReNeuron Group plc, of Guildford, UK, signed a manufacturing contract with Angel Biotechnology Holdings plc, of Cramlington, UK. Angel will scale up ReNeuron’s ReN005 stem cell line for Huntington’s disease, initially producing a master cell bank to Good Manufacturing Practice standards.

• Sareum Holdings plc, of Cambridge, UK, agreed on a $5 million deal with Idenix Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., to use its structure-based drug discovery tools to identify novel compounds against hepatitis C infection. The aim of the one-year collaboration is to generate lead chemical series for development by Idenix. This is the second deal between the two, who made a similar agreement on HIV in January.

• SkyePharma plc, of London, said Ian Gowrie-Smith retired as a nonexecutive director. He founded the company in 1996 and remains a major shareholder. Gowrie-Smith decided to bring forward the date of his retirement to ensure that the only upcoming proposal at a special meeting of shareholders is whether Bob Thian is suitable to become the executive chairman of SkyePharma, a possibility that the board does not support. The board said Thian does not have the right experience and has other taxing commitments. Earlier this month, the company appointed Frank Cordello CEO, Ken Cunningham chief operating officer and Jerry Karabelas nonexecutive chairman, but activist shareholders are demanding that Thian be appointed chairman. (See BioWorld International, Feb. 8, 2006.)

• Third Wave Technologies Inc., of Madison, Wis., and Innogenetics NV, of Gent, Belgium, reached an agreement to resolve the companies’ patent dispute. Third Wave will receive a nonexclusive license to sell hepatitis C virus genotyping products in the U.S., and retains certain opt-out rights, as well as an option to extend both the term and global reach of the license to Innogenetics’ HCV genotyping patent estate. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• TopoTarget A/S, of Copenhagen, Denmark, commenced a Phase II trial of Savicol, a histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor in development for colorectal polyps in patients with familial adenomatous polyposis, an inherited condition in which patients develop hundreds of colorectal polyps and have a high risk of developing colorectal cancer. The study, which will involve 60 patients located in Germany and Russia, will evaluate polyp burden, histology and pathology of polyp biopsies and analysis of colorectal biomarkers.

• Tripep AB, of Huddinge, Sweden, raised SEK24 million (US$3.1 million), net of expenses, in a share issue directed at a group of small institutions and private investors. The company is issuing 2 million new shares, priced at SEK13 per share. On completion of the transaction, it will have about 23.6 million shares outstanding. Tripep said the funding will secure the company’s financial position until the end of 2006.

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