• MultiCell Technologies Inc., of Lincoln, R.I., is taking back marketing control of its non-tumorigenic immortalized human hepatocytes after terminating an exclusive license agreement with XenoTech LLC, of Lenexa, Kan., for failure to meet minimum royalty obligations. Under the 2003 deal, XenoTech was allowed to sell sub-licenses for the propagation of Multicell's immortalized human liver cells, which are used to develop drug development assays.

• Novartis AG, of Basel, Switzerland, received approval from the European Commission to acquire Emeryville, Calif.-based Chiron Corp. That follows approval by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission in December, and clearance by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. in January. The SEC's review is ongoing and is expected to be completed this quarter. Following that review, a meeting will be scheduled for Chiron shareholders to vote on the merger. Novartis offered in late October to buy out the remaining shares of Chiron it did not already own in a deal valued at $5.1 billion. (See BioWorld Today, Nov. 1, 2005.)

• OSI Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Melville, N.Y., made two changes in its corporate governance designed to allow stockholders a stronger voice concerning major strategic initiatives. The board adopted a policy to put to a vote any potential business acquisition with a purchase price in excess of 20 percent of OSI's market capitalization, regardless of the mix of cash, stock, or other property comprising the purchase price. OSI's most recent merger was its buyout of New York-based Eyetech Pharmaceuticals Inc. for $935 million in cash and stock. That deal closed in November. (See BioWorld Today, Aug. 23, 2005, and Nov. 15, 2005.)

• Targacept Inc., of Winston-Salem, N.C., received a $10 million initial payment from AstraZeneca plc, of London, following the early termination of the antitrust waiting period. At the end of last year, they entered an exclusive global license and research collaboration worth up to $300 million for the development and commercialization of Targacept's TC-1734 (AZD3480) to treat Alzheimer's disease, cognitive deficits in schizophrenia and other cognitive disorders. The agreement also provides for a four-year research collaboration under which Targacept will employ its Pentad drug discovery technology to discover additional compounds. (See BioWorld Today, Dec. 29, 2005.)

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