• AnalytiCon GmbH, of Potsdam, Germany, began a collaboration with Bionaut Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., to identify new compounds that inhibit tumor cells' ability to survive stressful conditions. Bionaut will provide compounds that have shown in vivo activity and use its technologies to validate new compounds. AnalytiCon will optimize the compounds' activity and selectivity for further preclinical development. Terms were not disclosed.

• Antisoma plc, of London, was cleared for a U.S. Phase II study of AS1404, a vascular disrupting agent aimed at established tumor blood vessels. In the study, in hormone-refractory prostate, AS1404 will be combined with docetaxel. AS1404 is in a different class from angiogenesis inhibitors, which block the growth of new tumor blood vessels.

• Ardana plc, of Edinburgh, UK, announced positive results in a Phase I study of EP1572, an orally active compound that stimulates the secretion of growth hormone. About one to two hours after administration of EP1572, there was a large increase in levels of growth hormone in the blood of all 36 subjects in the trial.

• Arpida AG, of Muenchenstein, Switzerland, is seeking up to CHF118.8 million (US$100.4 million) in an initial public offering of up to 5.4 million shares on the Swiss Stock Exchange in Zurich. The company set a price range of CHF18 to CHF22 per share. The new shares would commence trading May 4. The shares are being offered to retail and institutional investors in Switzerland, to overseas institutional investors and to qualified U.S. institutions. The IPO filing also includes an overallotment of 810,000 shares. If exercised in full, the company would have about 17.2 million outstanding shares.

• Atugen AG, of Berlin, began a cooperative project with Xantos Biomedicine AG, of Munich, Germany, to use short-interfering RNA from Atugen to validate one of Xantos' angiogenic targets in animal studies. Xantos has discovered novel proteins that mediate the proliferation of vascular endothelial cells, and that might play a role in forming new blood vessels for tumors. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• Axaron Bioscience AG, of Heidelberg, Germany, appointed Alfred Hackenberger to the company's supervisory board. Hackenberger is president of BASF AG's specialty chemicals research competence center. Axaron is developing drugs to target neurodegenerative conditions such as stroke or Parkinson's disease.

• BioAlliance Pharma, of Paris, reported that one of its lead products, doxorubicin Transdrug, was granted orphan drug status for the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma by the FDA. The product is completing Phase I/II testing in the EU for treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma.

• Chugai Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., of Tokyo, reported that Forerunner Pharma Research Co. Ltd. was jointly established with Mitsui & Co. Ltd., of Tokyo. FPR, based in the Komaba Open Laboratory of the University of Tokyo Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, is expected to conduct drug exploration by integrating Chugai's drug development technologies with knowledge and information in universities and other research institutes.

• Cisbio International, of Bagnols-sur-Cèze, France, and Fujirebio Diagnostics Inc., of Malvern, Pa., concluded a distribution agreement providing for the French firm to distribute Fujirebio's new blood test for mesothelioma, Mesomark, in Europe. Mesomark is a manual, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and works by identifying a group of molecular markers called soluble mesothelin-related proteins. FDI launched Mesomark in Australia earlier this year.

• Clonmel Healthcare Ltd., of Clonmel, Ireland, a subsidiary of Stada Arzneimittel AG, and Advancis Pharmaceutical Corp., of Germantown, Md., have entered agreements under which Clonmel will provide Advancis with commercial supply of its Amoxicillin Pulsys products being evaluated in Phase III trials. Under the agreements, Advancis and Clonmel also have finalized an agreement for technology transfer, clinical/stability batches and commercial scale up and validation, as well as an agreement covering Advancis-funded facility build-out and equipment additions.

• Compugen Ltd., of Tel Aviv, Israel, entered a joint pilot research project with Novartis AG, of Basel, Switzerland, in systems biology. Compugen will receive a one-time payment and generate information about biological interaction networks through the development of a platform for research and analysis of microarray and other biological data. Novartis will obtain sole rights to the specific results of the project, and Compugen will retain all rights to the research and discovery systems developed.

• Curacyte AG, of Leipzig, Germany, appointed David Ebsworth chairman of its supervisory board. Ebsworth has previously served as president of Bayer AG's pharmaceutical division and CEO of Oxford GlycoScience PLC.

• Cyprotex plc, of Macclesfield, UK, launched a high-throughput screening service for the early detection of cardiovascular toxicity.

• Debiopharm SA, of Lausanne, Switzerland, signed a research collaboration with Chiba, Japan-based NanoCarrier Co. Ltd. to develop a new platinum compound. Under the collaboration, Debiopharm has the exclusive option to license from NanoCarrier a DACH-platin-PEG-polyglutamic acid (DACH Platin Medicelle), which has shown in animal experiments to have enhanced permeability and retention in tumors for improved efficacy and toxicity profiles. Debiopharm will fund product development, and NanoCarrier would receive cash milestones at different stages of development and royalties.

• Elan Corp. plc, of Dublin, Ireland, is the subject of a class-action lawsuit from Krislov & Associates Ltd., of Chicago, filed April 21 on behalf of purchasers of Elan securities during the period between Jan. 29, 2004, and March 30, 2005. The complaint charges Elan with providing misleading information to shareholders regarding the status of trials and commercial potential of Tysabri, a multiple sclerosis vaccine that was withdrawn from the market earlier this year after Elan and its partner, Cambridge, Mass.-based Biogen Idec Inc., reported a patient death due to progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy.

• Epigenomics AG, of Berlin, presented positive results from its tests on prostate cancer and breast cancer at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research. The tests are based on DNA methylation and the results supported the predictive value of specific biomarkers that the company included in its prostate cancer biopsy and breast cancer outcome tissue-based tests. The company is cooperating with Roche Diagnostics, a unit of F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd., of Basel, Switzerland, to commercialize the tests.

• Evolutec Group plc, of Oxford, UK, received FDA clearance for a proof-of-concept study for rEV131 in treating hay fever. The randomized, double-blind Phase II trial aims to show an improvement in four nasal symptoms: mucus production, congestion, sneezing and itching. Analysis of the challenge trial will be completed by the end of 2005.

• Evotec OAI AG, of Hamburg, Germany, extended its global discovery chemistry agreement with F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd., of Basel, Switzerland, for an additional year. The deal, which originated in May, requires Evotec to support design and synthesis of chemical compounds at four Roche sites. A specific team provides full-time support for the medical chemistry programs of Roche and its Japanese subsidiary, Chugai Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., of Tokyo. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• ExonHit Therapeutics SA, of Paris, was granted a patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office covering microarrays optimized for the discovery of alternative mRNA splicing events. The patent protects the probe configuration of a unique set of five oligonucleotides for the detection of each splice variant. The patented probe configuration is the basis for the microarrays in the SpliceArray products ExonHit launched earlier this year.

• Genfit, of Lille, France, initiated a Phase I trial of its lead compound, GFT14, in global cardiovascular risk. The company is developing compounds with multiple effects that target different pathological aspects of cardiovascular risk simultaneously, such as hypertension, diabetes, dyslipidemia and visceral obesity. Genfit anticipates taking GFT14 into Phase II at the end of this year. Before that, in November, it plans to start a Phase I trial of a second drug candidate, GFT505, while a third, GFT120, is due to enter clinical development in June 2006. Genfit also reported that it had completed 10 milestones in collaborations with third parties since its creation in September 1999, although the payments covered only a small proportion of the €45 million (US$58.4 million) it invested in research and development during that period. In 2004 the company earned a net profit of €1.2 million on revenues of €12.2 million.

• Geron Corp., of Menlo Park, Calif., sold 741,000 shares of common stock at $5.40 per share and issued warrants to purchase 370,000 shares of common stock at a premium to Hong Kong investors for proceeds of $4 million. The shares and warrants were offered through a supplement to the company's shelf registration. The proceeds will fund Geron's commitment to the new Hong Kong company TA Therapeutics Ltd., in which it has a 50 percent stake.

• Gilead Sciences Inc., of Foster City, Calif., and Aspen Pharmacare, of Johannesburg, South Africa, signed a letter of intent to enter a nonexclusive licensing and distribution agreement for Gilead's antiretroviral products, Truvada (emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate) and Viread (tenofovir disoproxil fumarate). Under the terms of the agreement, Aspen will manufacture Truvada and Viread, according to U.S. standards, and distribute the products under their global trade names in specified countries in Africa. Gilead will provide active pharmaceutical ingredients and will transfer the necessary technology for tableting of the products in Aspen's FDA-approved facilities in South Africa. Aspen will pursue regulatory approval for the products in those countries where one or both products are not already registered.

• Henderson Morley plc, of Birmingham, UK, said recruitment to the Austrian Phase II trial of its Ionic Contra Viral Therapy (ICVT) in treating adenovirus keratoconjunctivitis has been slower than anticipated. Partner Croma Pharma AG now is taking steps to speed up recruitment. ICVT uses a combination of two marketed drugs to interrupt viral DNA synthesis by altering potassium ion concentrations.

• KuDOS Pharmaceuticals Ltd., said its partner, Novacea Inc., of South San Francisco, began patient enrolment in a Phase I/II open label, dose-escalation study of banoxantrone (AQ4N) in 55 patients with B-cell neoplasms. AQ4N is a topoisomerase inhibitor and DNA intercalator that is activated in the hypoxic environment within tumors.

• LION bioscience AG, of Heidelberg, Germany, plans to sell its bioinformatics business. The management and supervisory board will conduct a structured tender. LION said that in the last few weeks, several companies expressed an interest in its bioinformatics business. A potential and alternative management buyout has been deferred for the time that the public tender is being put into place.

• MerLion Pharmaceuticals Ltd., of Singapore, reported a three-year drug discovery and development collaboration with Sankyo Co. Ltd., of Tokyo. Sankyo will provide selected high-throughput screens and additional assays to MerLion, which will provide access to its sample collection and apply its screening and natural products chemistry skills to the isolation of new chemical leads.

• NascaCell IP GmbH, of Munich, Germany; PSF biotech AG, of Berlin; and Xantos Biomedicine AG, of Munich, Germany, launched a consortium to identify and develop drugs to inhibit tumor angiogenesis. The companies will integrate their technology platforms and use an aptamer-based approach. Xantos will contribute target discovery and small-molecule screening. PSF will offer protein production and crystallization. NascaCell will bring target validation and drug discovery techniques. The joint effort, to be called PADDION, will receive initial funding from the German Ministry of Education and Research BioChancePlus program.

• Nautilus Biotech, of Paris, developed a set of molecules, engineered to create a next-generation, long-lasting IFN-gamma with enhanced biological and pharmacological profiles. If developed as a biopharmaceutical, the improved version of IFN-gamma would allow less frequent injections of the drug. The molecules, developed using Nautilus' technology for protein improvement, are single mutants of IFN-gamma. IFN-gamma is marketed for the treatment of chronic granulomatous disease and malignant osteopetrosis and is in clinical trials for the treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, certain forms of cancer and tuberculosis.

• Onyvax Ltd., of London, published Phase I/II results for its cancer vaccine Onyvax-105 in the treatment of osteosarcoma. The trial was designed to assess if immunotherapy was a possible treatment for the 31 pediatric and young adult patients in the trial, who had all completed current best standard chemotherapy. Most mounted an immune response and two patients remain free of disease four years after enrolment.

• Peakdale Molecular Ltd., of Chapel-en-le-Frith, UK, announced the extension of its agreement with London-based GlaxoSmithKline plc to provide ongoing services for the Respiratory and Inflammation Centre of Excellence for Drug Discovery. Under the agreement extension through 2005, GSK will continue to make use of Peakdale's synthetic chemistry abilities and also include support for GSK's Cardiovascular and Urogenital CEDD. Further financial details were not disclosed.

• PharmaDesign Inc., of Tokyo, signed an agreement with Novartis AG, of Basel, Switzerland, to license PharmaGPEP, a G protein-coupled receptor ligand library designed and produced by PDI. PharmaGPEP is a synthetic peptide library designed with PDI's bioinformatics technologies. Financial and other terms were not disclosed.

• Protagen AG, of Dortmund, Germany, named Stefan Muellner chief scientific officer. He previously worked as a research and development manager for both Henkel and Hoechst. Muellner succeeds Helmut Meyer, who will join the company's supervisory board.

• Proteome Systems, of Sydney, Australia, and Agilent Technologies Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif., signed a marketing agreement to collaborate on a solution for the analysis of glycoproteins. Proteome Systems will make its GlycomIQ software compatible with the Agilent XCT, XCT Plus and XCT Ultra ion trap mass spectrometers.

• Qiagen NV, of Venlo, the Netherlands, launched what it said is the world's first and largest product portfolio for integrated genome-wide RNAi and SYBR Green-based RT-PCR. The offering is designed to provide a range of optimized and validated RNAi-based gene-silencing solutions and also links RNAi solutions with the corresponding gene-expression assay used in the subsequent qPCR-based knockdown validation.

• Serono SA, of Geneva, reported in its first-quarter results that its product sales were up 6.7 percent from last year to total $551.4 million, due in part to its multiple sclerosis product, Rebif, reaching a U.S. market share of 18.5 percent of total prescriptions and 22.4 percent of new prescriptions at the end of the quarter. Sales of psoriasis drug Raptiva totaled $4.5 million, and Serono said it is reimbursed in 12 countries, including the Netherlands, Spain, Italy and Norway. Excluding a one-time exceptional charge of $725 million, the company's total operating costs increased by 11.8 percent this quarter to $494.2 million. The $725 million related to the previously reported investigation into the company's Serostim marketing practices. Though no final agreement has been reached, Serono's discussions with the U.S. Attorney's Office have advanced to a point where the company said it was appropriate to take a provision believed to be sufficient to cover a resolution of the investigation. The one-time charge results in a net loss of $567.7 million for the first quarter.

• SkyePharma plc, of London, entered a potential $80 million development and marketing arrangement with Cambridge, UK-based Mundipharma International Holdings Ltd. for the marketing and distribution of DepoVupivacaine in Europe and other international markets, excluding the U.S., Canada and Japan. SkyePharma will receive $10 million on signature, most of which will be deferred to cover the cost of the Phase II trial, and also receive further contributions of up to $20 million toward the cost of the Phase III trials. Additional milestone payments for development goals, marketing approvals and sales targets could amount to more than $80 million.

• Spectrum Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Irvine, Calif., and its co-development partner for satraplatin, GPC Biotech AG, of Martinsried, Germany, said an independent Data Monitoring Board reviewed safety data from the 262 patients in a Phase III trial and recommended that the trial continue as planned. Satraplatin, an orally bioavailable platinum-based drug, is being studied as a second-line treatment for hormone-refractory prostate cancer. Patient enrollment is scheduled to be complete by the end of the year, and a new drug application should be submitted in the second half of 2006.