• 7TM Pharma, of Horsholm, Denmark, said Johnson & Johnson Development Corp., a unit of New Brunswick, N.J.-based Johnson & Johnson, made an undisclosed investment in 7TM, which will use proceeds to advance its development and discovery programs focused on metabolic disorders. The company also has selected a second compound, TM30339, from its Y receptor agonist program, and has initiated preclinical development to test it for the treatment of obesity. Earlier this summer, 7TM started Phase I/II trials with the obesity compound TM30338.

• Benitec Ltd., of St. Lucia, Australia, and Promega Corp., of Madison, Wis., settled their contract dispute pending in the U.S. District Court of Delaware. Promega will hold a worldwide nonexclusive license to make and sell DNA-directed RNAi-based research products. It will receive a cash payment and continued royalties from certain sublicenses. Financial terms of the settlement are confidential.

• Crucell NV, of Leiden, the Netherlands, and allied contract manufacturer DSM Biologics signed a PER.C6 research license agreement for recombinant protein production with Chiron Corp., of Emeryville, Calif. The agreement allows Chiron to evaluate the PER.C6 cell line for use in the manufacturing of Chiron's prophylactic hepatitis C vaccine. Also, Crucell signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with the Naval Medical Research Center of the U.S. Navy to construct AdVac-based vaccines against anthrax and plague, and then test them in non-human primates. Under the terms of the agreement, Crucell obtained an option on exclusive commercialization rights to any resulting vaccine. The company also is using its adenovirus vector and PER.C6 production technologies to develop an Ebola vaccine with the Vaccine Research Center of the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases.

• Debiopharm SA, of Lausanne, Switzerland, and DeveloGen AG, of Goettingen, Germany, formed an exclusive worldwide collaboration in which Debiopharm will develop PTR-262, a peptide drug to treat myasthenia gravis, before out-licensing to global partners for commercialization. DeveloGen will receive milestone payments and potential royalties based on Debiopharm's revenues from worldwide sales.

• Epimmune Inc., of San Diego, and IDM SA, of Paris, completed their previously announced merger. The combined company is headquartered in San Diego under the name IDM Pharma Inc., while the Paris facility operates as a wholly owned subsidiary. In closing the transaction, the company issued a 1-for-7 reverse stock split of all outstanding stock, including the shares issued to stockholders of IDM, leaving the firm with about 13.2 million shares outstanding.

• Genmab A/S, of Copenhagen, Denmark, initiated a Phase II study with HuMax-CD20 to treat patients with active rheumatoid arthritis who have failed treatment with one or more disease-modifying drugs. The trial will expand a previous 33-patient Phase I/II dose-escalation study to include about 200 patients randomized into four treatment groups. HuMax-CD20 is a human antibody designed to bind to the CD20 molecule on B cells.

• Novartis AG, of Basel, Switzerland, signed an agreement with SeBo GmbH, of Heidelberg, Germany, to acquire the global rights for an oral phosphate binder in development to treat elevated serum phosphate levels (hyperphosphatemia) in late- or end-stage renal disease patients. Novartis has obtained the rights to develop, manufacture and commercialize the compound for patients with chronic kidney disease or those already on dialysis. The compound is in Phase I development.

• TopoTarget A/S, of Copenhagen, Denmark, submitted an application for marketing approval in the European Union of Savene (dextrazoxane) for the treatment of accidental extravasation of anthracycline cancer drugs. The compound, which has orphan drug designation in the European Union, will be assessed under the London-based European Medicines Agency's centralized regulatory review procedure. TopoTarget said it aims to gain marketing approval by late 2006. The product, an intravenously administered topoisomerase II inhibitor, also has U.S. orphan drug designation.

• Viennese Christian Doppler Laboratory for Gene Therapeutic Vector Development at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna, Austria, has shown for the first time that mouse mammary tumor virus, which causes breast cancer in mice, can also infect human cells. The findings do not necessarily mean that the virus is involved in the development of human breast cancer. The results are published in the current edition of Cancer Research.

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