Acambis plc, of Cambridge, UK, started development of an influenza vaccine for permanent protection against infection. The project, based on a collaboration with the Flanders Interuniversity for Biotechnology in Belgium, will produce a vaccine that is active against both A and B strains of flu.
Ark Therapeutics Group plc, of London, discovered a gene therapy delivery technology that selectively inserts genes into a specific therapeutic site, avoiding the risk of random gene insertion. The process uses a DNA-binding nuclease-integrase fusion protein which breaks the DNA chain in the benign locus of 28s ribosomal RNA gene and inserts the therapeutic gene.
BioFocus plc, of Chesterford Research Park, UK, started the second phase of a collaboration on G protein-coupled receptors with Organon NV of Oss, the Netherlands. In the fee-for-service deal, BioFocus will generate leads for selected Organon targets.
BioVisioN AG, of Hannover, Germany, received a €560,000 (US$693,470) research grant through the German BioChancePLUS program for a project to characterize proteases and protease inhibitors. The company will apply its Peptidomics technologies to analyze substrates and products of proteases in vivo to discover biomarkers for drug efficacy and drug side effects.
CellTran Ltd., of Sheffield, UK, raised £2.7 million (US$4.8 million) in a private funding round led by YFM Group. Other investors were Biofusion and White Rose Seedcorn Fund, along with Partnerships UK plc. Proceeds will be used to continue development of CellTran's surface chemistry and tissue-engineering technologies with a focus on wound-care products, to progress CellTran's lead product Myskin through clinical trials as a treatment for diabetic foot ulcers, and to expand its sales and marketing efforts of Myskin to treat chronic wounds and burns.
Cobra Biomanufacturing plc, of Keele, UK, and Auxilium Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Malvern, Pa., formed a $3.3 million agreement to produce and supply the protein biopharmaceutical AA4500 through 2006. Cobra will provide scale up and cGMP manufacturing services and supply of drug for Phase II/III trials. Auxilium is developing the orphan drug AA4500 as a treatment for Peyronie's and Dupuytren's disease.
Cytomyx Ltd., of Cambridge, UK, signed a license agreement with Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, of Collegeville, Pa., allowing Cytomyx to create and market cell lines expressing the ion channel, Kv4.3, and four accessory subunits for use in drug discovery and screening. Those are important because they combine in different ways in different tissues, and are involved in regulating the electrical activity of the brain and the heart.
Inpharmatica Ltd., of London, is collaborating with Tibotec Pharmaceuticals Ltd., of Belgium, on drugs against infectious diseases, including AIDs. Tibotec will use Inpharmatica's technology to elucidate the molecular activity of compounds shown to have antiviral activity in cell-based assays.
Institute for the Study of Aging in New York, a public charity, created a new research award program titled "Novel Approaches to Drug Discovery for Alzheimer's Disease" that is being made possible through a donation from Elan Pharmaceuticals Inc., part of Elan Corp plc, of Dublin, Ireland, and funds from the institute. The goal of the three-year program is to catalyze and fund academic and biotechnology industry scientists worldwide to conduct research leading to the discovery of effective therapies for Alzheimer's disease.
MediciNova Inc., of San Diego, said it completed enrollment of patients in a Phase II trial of MN-166 to treat multiple sclerosis. MN-166 is an orally administered drug that inhibits phosphodiesterase IV. MediciNova holds exclusive rights from Kyorin Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., of Tokyo, to develop and commercialize MN-166 for MS everywhere except Japan, China, Taiwan and South Korea.
Meytav Technological Incubator in Kiryat Shmona, Israel, increased the number of portfolio companies from three to 15 during two years of privatization. The anniversary was marked by the investment by a publicly traded company in any Israeli incubator, with Biomedix, of Tel Aviv, Israel, placing $3 million into Meytav for a controlling interest, including a call option on all remaining shares. Meytav was among 12 of Israel's 24 incubators that were privatized in July 2003.
MorphoSys AG, of Martinsried, Germany, said its first therapeutic antibody program with partner Novartis AG, of Basel, Switzerland, generated numerous fully human antibodies, and achieved the first milestone to MorphoSys. The companies formed an alliance in May 2004 to jointly develop antibody-based therapeutic substances against a range of illnesses. As part of the agreement, Novartis acquired an equity stake in MorphoSys worth about €9 million (US$11.1 million).
OriGene Technologies Inc., of Rockville, Md., licensed its FlagArray platform for high-throughput drug target discovery to Eisai London Research Laboratories. The platform consists of expression-ready arrays of full-length cDNA plasmids for use in high-throughput, genome-wide target identification and validation. The arrays allow scientists to query thousands of genes and their roles in disease phenotypes and pathways.
Osiris Therapeutics Inc., of Baltimore, expanded the terms of its license agreement with JCR Pharmaceuticals Co. Ltd., of Ashiya, Japan, allowing JCR to sell stem cells for use in the field of drug screening and evaluation in the territory of Japan. This technology will allow companies involved in the screening of pharmaceutical compounds the ability to determine certain critical metabolic effects on viable human cells. The original agreement was signed in August 2003 to allow JCR rights to commercialize a stem cell drug in Japan designed to treat the effects of graft-vs.-host disease in leukemia patients undergoing bone marrow transplantation. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Oxford Biomedica, plc of Oxford, UK, completed the first stage of its Phase II trial of MetXia in treating pancreatic cancer. MetXia uses a retrovirus to deliver the human cytochrome P450 to tumor cells. That produces an enzyme that activates the co-administered prodrug cyclophosphamide into its active form. In six patients treated to date, using direct delivery to the tumor, there was a dose-dependent expression of P450. The second stage of the trial, which will recruit up to 25 patients, has commenced.
Phogen Ltd., of Cambridge, UK, entered a deal with Cancer Research Technology Ltd., of London, for the commercialization of Phogen's VP22 technology platform for the controlled delivery of protein drugs. Phogen is a subsidiary of Xenova Group plc.
PRB Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Irvine, Calif., and Hong Kong, and Lee's Pharmaceutical Holdings Ltd., of Hong Kong, said a recent study by Taiwan researchers from the National Health Research Institutes demonstrates TF2b and TF3, two components of v38 AMF-1, inhibit the 3C-like protease encoded by SARS-CoV. V38 AMF-1 is best known for its ability to inhibit bird flu virus infections. The study was published in the June edition of Evid Based Complement Alternat Med.
Protherics plc, of Runcorn, UK, submitted voraxaze, a treatment for methotrexate (MTX) toxicity for European marketing approval, and stepped up preparations for the in house sales and marketing team to launch the product in 2006. In clinical trials, voraxaze cleared MTX, a commonly used chemotherapeutic, from the blood of patients in whom its elimination had been delayed, thus avoiding side effects.
ReNeuron Group plc, of Guildford, UK, completed its flotation on the Alternative Investment Market in London, raising £9.5 million (US$16.9 million). The stem cell therapy company issued 38 million shares at 25 pence per share, giving a market capitalization of £23.4 million. In addition, 19 million warrants were issued at 30 pence per share, which if exercised by Feb. 12, 2007, will raise a further £5.7 million.
Seoul National University in Seoul, South Korea, said stem cell researcher Hwang Woo-suk and his research team introduced the first cloned dog, a 14-week Afghan hound named Snuppy. Last year, that team developed the first cloned human embryo, and in May presented the first embryonic stem cells that genetically matched sick patients. Woo-suk and his colleagues said the goal of their stem cell and cloning work is to learn how to treat human diseases by creating a reliable research model.
Speedel Group AG, of Basel, Switzerland, privately raised CHF70 million (US$56 million) through a convertible loan, bringing its total fund raising for the year to CHF117.8 million. Proceeds will be used for clinical development, specifically for the Phase III study of its endothelin A receptor antagonist, SPP301, initiated last month in diabetic nephropathy. The mortality and morbidity study will evaluate SPP301 in more than 2,000 Type II diabetes patients. Funds from the financing also will support the activities of Speedel Experimenta, the company's late-stage research unit.
TopoTarget A/S, of Copenhagen, Denmark, received a $4.8 million milestone payment from its partner CuraGen Corp., of New Haven, Conn., as an ongoing Phase II trial of PXD101 in multiple myeloma is extended to the U.S. The compound, a histone deacetylase inhibitor, entered an open-label study during the first quarter. The companies plan to initiate additional clinical studies of PXD101, both as monotherapy and in combination with other therapies, during this year.
Xenova Group plc, of Slough, UK, said a majority of its shareholders approved the company's proposed acquisition by private equity business Celtic Pharma Development UK plc. Board members agreed in June to a buyout for up to £26.1 million (US$47.5 million), after reaching terms on the offer concurrent with a licensing deal between the companies for two Xenova products.