• Arrow Therapeutics, of London, said its lead hepatitis C compound, A-831, has entered full preclinical development. A-831 has a novel mode of action, targeting the NS5a protein. It has shown potent activity in the replicon assay, an accepted predictor of clinical activity, and has a good therapeutic index and good pharmacokinetic properties. Phase I trials are expected to start in the second half of 2006.

• Avantogen Ltd., of Sydney, Australia, and San Diego, and Innovate Oncology Inc., of New York, formed an agreement whereby Innovate will merge with a wholly owned subsidiary of Avantogen, thereby acquiring Avantogen's 50 percent interest in the pancreatic chemoresistance inhibitor, RP101. Avantogen also will contribute to Innovate $1.1 million at the close of the transaction, which involves in total the issuance of 32 million shares of common stock in Innovate. Avantogen will then own about 54 percent of the company.

• BTG plc, of London, licensed novel inhibitors of amyloid-induced toxicity and neuroinflammation to Senexis Ltd., of Cambridge, UK. BTG is entitled to receive milestone payments and royalties. The first milestones will be triggered by selection of candidates and approval to commence clinical trials. At the same time, BTG and the technology commercialization arm of the research charity, the Wellcome Trust, announced they are to invest £500,000 (US$875,600) each in Senexis. They provided initial funding of £1.2 million when Senexis was set up in November 2002.

• CureVac GmbH, of Tuebingen, Germany, received a €22 million (US$26.4 million) investment from SAP founder Dietmar Hopp, via his investment companies DH Capital GmbH & Co. KG and OH Beteiligungen GmbH und Co. KG. The funds will be used for clinical work against various types of carcinoma. CureVac focuses on immune therapies using stabilized mRNA molecules.

• CyGenics Ltd., of Sydney, Australia, said it will be part of a new international collaborative effort aimed at cancer treatments by developing and mobilizing immune cells outside the human body. Called PACRIMA, the project brings together Division Haemato-Oncology of University Hospital Maastricht (AZM), the Netherlands; CyGenics; Maia-Scientific NV, of Belgium; Pharmacell BV, of the Netherlands; and a leading stem cell research institute in Japan.

• Devgen NV, of Ghent, Belgium, was awarded a €3.3 million (US$4 million) technology grant from the Flanders government to develop new technologies to protect crops against plant pests. The goal of the three-year program is to build further on Devgen's current technologies and to address plant pathogens that cannot be dealt with using the current commercial GMO technologies.

• Dr. Reddy's Laboratories, of Hyderabad, India, and Argenta Discovery Ltd., of Harlow, UK, entered an agreement for the joint development and commercialization of a novel approach to the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Under the terms of the agreement, the companies will collaborate to identify clinical candidates from a certain class of compounds from Dr. Reddy's for use as treatments for COPD. The parties will jointly develop the selected candidates from the preclinical stage up to Phase IIa.

• Galapagos NV, of Mechelen, Belgium, extended three research collaborations into 2006 with BASF Aktiengesellschaft in Ludwigshafen, Germany. The extensions, worth more than €700,000 (US$846,516) will progress discovery research services for BASF programs undertaken by Galapagos' service division BioFocus in 2005. BioFocus will offer biology, synthetic and computational chemistry services, plus access to its biologically targeted SoftFocus Kinase and GPCR compound libraries against further BASF targets. BASF will pay compound supply and access fees and will fund research activities.

• Global Life Science Ventures, of Munich, Germany, launched Nabriva GmbH, a specialist antibiotic research and development company that had existed as part of Sandoz GmbH. GSLV is investing €6 million in a Series A round that totals €42 million (US$51.1 million), as part of a syndicate led by Nomura, and included Wellcome, HBM, and Novartis Bioventures. Nabriva, which was spun-out following Sandoz's reorientation as the generics company within Novartis, will focus on developing small-molecule antibiotics for use in community and hospital infections.

• Primagen Holding BV, of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, signed an exclusive license agreement with bioMerieux SA, of Marcy L'Etoile, France, for a coronavirus that was discovered by the Academic Medical Centre in Amsterdam in collaboration with researchers at Primagen. The coronavirus CoV-NL63 causes severe respiratory disease in children younger than 5, and is associated with respiratory disease in adults and the elderly. The collaboration will focus on developing and commercializing a test for that disease. BioMerieux will develop and market the product, and be responsible for sublicensing agreements with other in vitro diagnostics manufacturers for this pathogen.

• ProImmune Ltd., of Oxford, UK, has developed platform technologies, Reveal and Prove, for identifying specific antigens on viruses that can be detected by the immune system and which would therefore be good targets in vaccine development. The screening system can analyze any protein for potential immunogenicity within four weeks, compared to the existing process, which takes many months to complete. In a pilot study, Reveal and Prove will be used to explore the protein sequence of the key H5 protein in the avian influenza virus, with the results being published on ProImmune's website as they emerge.

• ReNeuron Group plc, of Guildford, UK, generated positive preclinical data with its ReN001 stem cell therapy for stroke in validated rodent models. The delivery method and implant location of the cells in the brain were selected to mimic the protocols that are likely to be followed in human trials, and the cells were drawn from production lots manufactured to GMP standards. The studies showed clear dose-ranging effects, indicating that higher dose has the potential to reverse both the sensory and motor symptoms associated with stroke disability. The data will form part of the company's package to support its impending FDA IND application.

• SciGen Ltd., of Singapore, received a letter from Ferring AG terminating its supply agreement of human growth hormone for Singapore and South Korea. The companies are in negotiations to explore a continued collaboration in marketing the product for those two areas. The termination will not have a material effect on SciGen's revenues, and the company has taken measures to ensure an uninterrupted supply to its customers.

• Scottish Biomedical, of Glasgow, Scotland, entered into a research collaboration focused on the development of a new drug for diabetes with Chong Kun Dang, of South Korea. Scottish Biomedical will provide biology and medicinal chemistry expertise to optimize small-molecule compounds that have been identified by Scottish Biomedical as active against a validated diabetes drug target.

• Shogoo Pharmaceuticals KK, of Tokyo, signed an agreement with BioSphings AG, of Frankfurt, Germany, to obtain rights to develop and commercialize BioSphings' SPK-0601, a small-molecule compound for diseases caused by viral infection. BioSphings will receive up-front and milestone payments. Specific financial terms were not disclosed.

• Stem Cell Sciences plc, of Edinburgh, UK, entered a technology transfer agreement with the University of Edinburgh to continue a collaboration in stem cell research. SCS has worked with the university since 1994.

• Trophos, of Marseille, France, completed a Phase I trial of its lead compound, TRO19622, for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. It was conducted in France, and Trophos now intends to initiate a pivotal Phase II/III trial of the drug in the same indication in both Europe and the U.S. in the fourth quarter. TRO19622 is one of several compounds Trophos is developing for ALS, spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) and other neurological disorders. It has been granted orphan drug status for ALS in the U.S. and for SMA in the European Union.

• UCB, of Brussels, Belgium, said the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use of the European Medicines Agency has issued a positive opinion to approve the marketing authorization of Keppra (levetiracetam) concentrate as an intravenous administration and for use as adjunctive therapy in treating partial onset seizures with or without secondary generalization in adults and children 4 years old and older with epilepsy. It also received an approvable letter from the FDA for the product, which will help patients in emergency seizure situations in which oral medication is not an option. Keppra is approved in the U.S. and Europe in tablet and oral solution formulations.

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