• 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.

• AVI BioPharma Inc., of Portland, Ore., said results of its Neugene antisense technology, ESPRIT (Exon Skipping Pre-RNA Interference Technology) showed that, when targeting the defective Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy dystrophin pre-RNA, the ESPRIT compound forced the cell to snip out the disease-causing mutation region, resulting in a functional, but altered, dystrophin protein. ESPRIT therapeutics are designed to either delete disease-causing genetic sequences or skip functional sequences to redesign proteins that are overexpressed or harmful in certain diseases. The data were published in Nature Medicine.

• 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.

• BioSyntech Inc., of Laval, Quebec, closed the transaction for Kuhnil Pharma Co. Ltd., of Seoul, South Korea, to purchase 1.5 million shares of BioSyntech at a price of 80 cents each for total proceeds of $1.2 million. As part of the transaction, Kuhnil acquired the exclusive rights to market, sell and distribute BioSyntech’s BST-CarGel and BST-InPod in the Republic of Korea.

• GenVec Inc., of Gaithersburg, Md., received initial funding of $300,000 to begin preliminary vector development with the Vaccine Research Center of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda, Md., in preparation for the manufacture of clinical-grade adenovector-based influenza vaccines. The initial season and pandemic flu vaccine research effort was agreed to through an extension of the $50 million subcontract licensed by SAIC-Frederick under which GenVec has been working to develop and manufacture adenovector-based HIV vaccines with the VRC since 2002. (See BioWorld Today, Jan. 11, 2002.)

• Nutra Pharma Corp., of Boynton Beach, Fla., said preclinical studies showed that its multiple sclerosis drug, RPI-78M, was effective in preventing the onset of disability in acute and chronic models of the disease, and was effective at preventing the infiltration of immune cells into the central nervous system. RPI-78M is the lead drug of Nutra Pharma’s holding, ReceptoPharm Inc. Results will be presented at the Rocky Mountain Biotechnology Symposium in Terre Haute, Ind., in April.

• RheoGene Inc., of Norristown, Pa., granted a commercial license to Ichor Medical Systems Inc., of San Diego, for use of the former’s RheoSwitch Therapeutic System in combination with Ichor’s TriGrid Delivery System electroporation technology to develop a gene therapy product for multiple sclerosis. The agreement also grants Ichor an option to use RTS in two additional indications.

• 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.

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