• AbAg, of Chilly Mazarin, France, closed a second funding round in which it raised €6 million (US$7.3 million) from two Paris-based equity funds. The financing was led by Innoven Partners, which put up €4 million, with the rest provided by Société Générale Asset Management. SGAM was the only investor in AbAg's first funding round, which was completed in March 2003 and netted the company €2 million. Founded in November 2001, AbAg focuses on serological diagnosis of bacterial infections and is developing products using a two-pronged technological approach based on the discovery of innovative antigens and the development of a protein chip (in collaboration with the French Atomic Energy Commission's Biochip laboratory in Grenoble). It plans to use this injection of funds to market its first test in 2007.

• Asterand plc, of Royston, UK, granted a license to the technology management company, BTG plc, for a number of compounds discovered and developed by Asterand for pain relief. The compounds are selective EP4 receptor antagonists, designed to block the action of prostaglandin E2 in pain and inflammation without affecting its beneficial effects. The lead molecule, BGC20-1531, which is in preclinical studies, prevents the prostaglandin E2 induced dilation of blood vessels in the head that contributes to migraines.

• BioLineRx Ltd., of Jerusalem, signed two license agreements for the development and commercialization of BL2050 to treat peripheral vascular disease and BL-2060, an antibiotic. Financial terms were not disclosed. The company also reported that it has terminated its BL-1050 program for the treatment of HIV.

• Can-Fite BioPharma Ltd., of Petach Tikva, Israel, signed a cooperative research and development agreement with the National Institutes of Health relating to small-agonists of the A(3) adenosine receptor created at the NIH. The A(3)AR is the prime target of Can-Fite's drug development efforts. The collaboration will focus on identifying agonists with potential against autoimmune inflammatory diseases and cancer.

• Cobra Biomanufacturing plc, of Keele, UK, agreed to develop a cell line for Replikun Biotech Pty. Ltd., of Sydney, Australia, for KUN-GMCSF, a gene therapy system for the treatment of cancer. KUN-GMCSF is designed to promote expression of a protein that will prompt the immune system to destroy tumor cells. The product is based on a vector system derived from the Kunjin virus.

• ComGenex Inc., of Budapest, Hungary, a company that provides chemistry services to the industry, and generated about $8.5 million in contract revenue in 2005, is being acquired by Albany Molecular Research Inc., of Albany, N.Y., through a stock purchase agreement. Financial terms were not disclosed. The transaction is expected to be completed by the end of the first quarter.

• Cresset BioMolecular Discovery Ltd., of Hertfordshire, UK, a drug discovery technology company, and Bayer CropScience, of Monheim, Germany, entered a collaboration to exploit Cresset's molecular field technology for the discovery of new agrochemicals. Bayer will apply Cresset's FieldScreen software to identify early stage active compounds to progress through their development pipeline.

• Eurand International SpA, of Milan, Italy, signed research agreements with the University of Milan and the University of Sassari to evaluate a new class of analgesic compounds. The new class of compounds is expected to be comparable to opioids in terms of efficacy, but not to possess the major drawbacks of tolerance and dependence, which limits the use of opioids.

• Evotec Technologies GmbH, of Hamburg, Germany, and Cellomics Inc. of Pittsburgh, entered a worldwide, nonexclusive license agreement to provide Evotec with the use of Cellomics' core High Content Screening patent portfolio. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• German Biotechnology Industry Association elected Bernward Garthoff as its new chairman. Garthoff is a member of the board at Bayer Cropscience, of Leverkusen, Germany. The organization elected Michael Wallmeyer as deputy chairman. Wallmeyer is a manager at Mologen AG, of Berlin.

• GPC Biotech AG, of Martinsried, Germany, said the European Commission granted orphan drug designation for its monoclonal antibody 1D09C3 in chronic lymphocytic leukemia, which would provide 10 years of market exclusivity upon product approval. 1D09C3 is in a Phase I trial in patients with relapsed or refractory B-cell lymphomas, such as Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's lymphomas, who have failed prior standard therapy.

• Intercell AG, of Vienna, Austria, was granted orphan drug status for its Japanese encephalitis vaccine by the European Commission. The designation includes all 25 member states of the European Union, plus Iceland and Norway. Intercell's product is a purified, inactive vaccine for active vaccination of adults, and it is in Phase III trials.

• MorphoSys AG, of Munich, Germany, said its partner, Basel, Switzerland-based F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd. filed to begin a European Phase I trial with a HuCAL-derived antibody for treating Alzheimer's disease. The antibody is designed to target abnormal buildups of amyloid beta protein in cerebral tissue. The filing triggered an undisclosed clinical milestone payment from Roche to MorphoSys.

• Organon NV, of Oss, the Netherlands, a business unit of Akzo Nobel, and Shanghai Genomics Inc., a China-based affiliate of GNI, agreed to a two-year collaboration on Organon's program for identifying selective steroid hormone receptor modulators. Research will focus on the areas of rheumatoid arthritis, atherosclerosis and oncology. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• Phosphogenics Ltd., of Melbourne, Australia, said it will begin animal studies later this month with its cancer compound. The drug, GTP-0805, is a phosphorylated variant of gamma-tocopherol. Laboratory tests thus far found that the compound induced a greater than 90 percent reduction in breast and prostate cancer cells.

• Roche Diagnostics, of Basel, Switzerland, has returned full rights to a Tamoxifen treatment response and breast cancer molecular classification test to Epigenomics AG, of Berlin, which will develop the test on its own. The test, designed to predict recurrence in breast cancer patients, was part of a multi-product collaboration with Roche. The companies continue to work together on three additional screening products. Financial details were not disclosed.

• Sareum Holdings plc, of Cambridge, UK, entered a collaboration with UCB SA, of Brussels, Belgium, giving UCB access to its Crystal Bank protein structure database for use in cancer drug discovery. Sareum will receive access fees and royalties.

• Serono SA, of Geneva, said the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare approved Gonal-f 75 IU and Gonal-f 150 IU (follitropin alfa recombinant) subcutaneous injection for co-administration with Profasi 5000 IU (chorionic gonadotropin) for the induction of spermatogenesis in men with hypogonadotropic hypogonadism. The company plans to continue working with Japanese authorities to register the product in female infertility. It will be marketed in Japan under the brand name Gonalef.

• SkyePharma plc, of London, could have an extraordinary general meeting to secure the appointment of Bob Thian as chairman. Activist shareholders, led by North Atlantic Value LLP, want Thian, and also want to remove the founder of the drug delivery company, Ian Gowrie-Smith, as a director. It also wants to remove any new directors that SkyePharma might appoint between the date of requisition of the EGM and the date of the meeting.

• York Pharma plc, of Hitchin, UK, selected carbenoxolone as the lead compound from a class of vitamin A metabolic pathway inhibitors to be developed as a topical psoriasis treatment. Recent Phase II data showed that the compound demonstrated favorable signs of clinical effect in patients with mild to moderate psoriasis. York intends to carry out further Phase II trials with an optimized formulation of carbenoxolone, including dose-ranging studies, before moving into Phase III development.

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