4SC AG, of Martinsried, Germany, and Sanwa Kagaku Kenkyusho Co. Ltd., of Nagoya, Japan, entered a multiyear drug discovery collaboration. 4SC will apply its drug discovery platform to develop drug candidates against two specific targets provided by SKK. Using the virtual high-throughput screening technology, 4Scan, 4SC will identify new active small molecules, which then will be tested in corresponding biological screening experiments against both targets.
Affitech AS, of Oslo, Norway, achieved a milestone related to work with Tustin, Calif.-based Peregrine Pharmaceuticals Inc. by generating antibodies under a collaboration agreement, specifically 2C3, a mouse antibody designed to selectively block activity of vascular endothelial growth factor. No financial terms were disclosed. Peregrine said preclinical studies showed that 2C3 had antitumor activity in a variety of solid tumors, and it produced an 85 percent reduction in blood vessel formation in breast cancer metastases. Data were presented during the 7th International Symposium on Anti-Angiogenic Agents in La Jolla, Calif.
Astex Technology Ltd., of Cambridge, UK, achieved the first milestone in its drug discovery collaboration with Ingelheim, Germany-based Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH. Financial terms were not disclosed. The collaboration, announced in March, is a three-year alliance for drug discovery in various indications, in which Astex is applying its fragment-based discovery approach, Pyramid, to generate drug molecules that are active against disease targets selected by Boehringer.
Atugen AG, of Berlin, renewed its nonexclusive target-validation and license agreement with Altana Pharma AG, of Bad Homburg, Germany, for another year. The agreement gives Altana the right to have molecular targets validated by Atugen's discovery team, using knockdown tools and transfection technologies. Altana also receives a license to use Atugen's gene silencing and oligonucleotide delivery technologies. The original license was granted in August 2001, and Altana has paid Atugen several research milestones.
Australian Cancer Technology, of Sydney, Australia, said patient enrollment has taken longer than expected for the Phase IIb trial of Pentrys, but the company expects to complete enrollment of 40 patients by the end of March. Pentrys is an anti-idiotypic vaccine designed for patients with refractory prostate cancer. The multicenter, open-label trial is being conducted by Cancer Trials Australia, a consortium of four Melbourne hospitals and three research institutes.
BAC BV, of Naarden, the Netherlands, completed a €3.5 million (US$4.6 million) private financing round. The financing is expected to enable the company to continue development of solutions for lab-scale separations and to advance its lead products toward launch for large-scale use in pharmaceutical processes. BAC's platform technology is based on the binding domain of a class of antibodies from the immune repertoire of the family Camelidae.
Biolex Inc., of Pittsboro, N.C., and OctoPlus Technologies BV, of Leiden, Netherlands, entered a collaboration for co-development of a controlled-release formulation of recombinant human alpha-interferon called Locteron. The product combines OctoPlus' PolyActive drug delivery technology with Biolex's BLX-883, a recombinant alpha-interferon. The companies said Locteron, which will be tested first in hepatitis C, is expected to be administered every two weeks.
Biolipox AB, of Stockholm, Sweden, said its NLA Nasal Spray anti-histamine treatment achieved an onset of effect within five to 10 minutes of administration, as measured by the reduction in concentration of a protein marker associated with the histamine response. Twelve volunteers participated in the study, and the difference was statistically significant, the company said. In separate news, the company said it was participating in the Eicosanox consortium, a project group supported by the European Commission's 6th Framework Program. The €10.7 million (US$14.1 million) project will study the role of eicosanoids and nitric oxide in inflammatory disease.
Cambridge Antibody Technology Group plc, of Cambridge, UK, said Abbott Laboratories, of Abbott Park, Ill., made a written application Friday to the Court of Appeal to appeal the Dec. 20 judgment, following the judge's refusal to grant permission for the company to appeal. Abbott's appeal will be heard by one judge. If the application is not successful, Abbott would be entitled to request a hearing. The judge handed down a ruling in CAT's favor late last year in its legal fight with Abbott relating to revenue shares from the blockbuster drug Humira. At issue was whether Abbott was entitled to reduce the royalty rate paid to CAT for Humira, an anti-TNF antibody.
Crucell NV, of Leiden, Netherlands, and DSM Biologics, of Groningen, Netherlands, signed a research license agreement to allow Basel, Switzerland-based F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd. to use the PER.C6 cell line for production of monoclonal antibody products, as well as a specific undisclosed protein. As part of the agreement, Crucell will work with Roche in creating a production clone for the specific protein. Roche will pay a research license payment, annual maintenance fees and research funding. Further financial terms were not disclosed.
Cyclacel Group plc, of Dundee, Scotland, said researchers from Cyclacel and the University of Edinburgh solved the 3-dimensional atomic structure of human proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), a protein centrally involved in the regulation and coordination of cell-cycle progression and DNA replication. Cyclacel said information gained from PCNA's architecture will be used to design and optimize small-molecule inhibitors of the protein that could be used in cancer treatment. The solution of native and complex structures of human PCNA is featured in the February 2005 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Diatos NV, of Leuven, Belgium, said its oncology research program received support through a grant from the Flemish Institute for Science and Technology. Diatos focuses its research on anticancer prodrugs. The funding of €650,000 (US$846,605) over the next two years will be applied to extend its Selective Prodrug Technology to the development of cytokine prodrugs with antitumor activity.
The EuroVacc Foundation is sponsoring a Phase I trial in Lausanne, Switzerland, and London of investigational vaccines comprising DNA-HIV-C and NYVAC-HIV-C for the prevention of HIV infection. The vaccines were developed by the European Vaccine Effort against HIV/AIDS and are based on HIV subtype C, which is prevalent in China, India and sub-Saharan Africa. The trial will evaluate the safety of DNA-HIV-C alone and as a prime-boost regimen with NYVAC-HIV-C, and also will compare the immunogenicity of the prime-boost regimen to NYVAC-HIV-C alone in healthy volunteers.
Evotec OAI AG, of Hamburg, Germany, said that AnorMED Inc., of Vancouver, British Columbia, selected Evotec to support it with the chemical development of its candidate AMD 3100, currently under evaluation in the clinic in stem cell mobilization for stem cell transplantation in cancer patients. Using its chemical and development platform, EVOdevelop, Evotec will complete full validation of the process on AMD 3100.
Genmab A/S, of Copenhagen, Denmark, said data from one of its HuMax-CD4 (zanolimumab) Phase II studies in patients with mycosis fungoides, a type of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, showed a median response duration of more than 45 weeks. Time-to-response analysis showed that 85 percent of the responding patients (11 of 13) obtained clinical responses within eight weeks. Previously released data demonstrated that increased doses of HuMax-CD4 resulted in increased trough values. HuMax-CD4 is a high-affinity human antibody that targets the CD4 receptor on T lymphocytes.
Human Metabolome Technologies Inc., of Yamagata, Japan, reported a collaboration with Mitsubishi Pharma Corp., of Tokyo, on a biomarker study for phospholipidosis. HMT will apply its metabolome technology in the effort.
Jubilant Biosys, a subsidiary of Jubilant Organosys, of Bangalore, India, and Genomics Collaborative Inc., a division of Oceanside, Calif.-based SeraCare Life Sciences, entered a collaboration to allow users of Jubilant's website to link to information in GCI's Global Repository, a biorepository consisting of tissue, serum, DNA and RNA from 120,000 donors.
NascaCell IP GmbH, of Munich, Germany, began a collaboration with Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH, of Ingelheim, Germany on aptamer-based target validation and drug discovery. NascaCell will provide custom aptamers for therapeutic targets provided by Boehringer. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Organon International, of Oss, the Netherlands, and Entelos Inc., of Foster City, Calif., plan to extend their rheumatoid arthritis collaboration signed in May 2001 to co-develop and commercialize biologic and small-molecule RA therapeutics directed at targets identified by Entelos. Organon will receive exclusive rights to the targets and access to Entelos' research capabilities, and Entelos will receive co-promotion and commercial rights for products resulting from the collaboration.
PharmaMar SA, of Madrid, Spain, said its second most advanced marine-derived antitumor agent, Aplidin, began Phase II trials in both prostate and bladder cancers. The study will focus on androgen-independent prostate cancer, relapsing or progressing after a previous line of docetaxel-based chemotherapy.
pSivida Ltd., of Perth, Australia, said data from the second patient cohort of a Phase IIa trial in inoperable primary liver cancer demonstrated that BrachySil is safe and effective in tumor regression. In the second group of four patients, 12 weeks after treatment, an average tumor regression by volume of 80 percent was reached. BrachySil is a micron-sized particle in which the isotope 32-phosphorus is immobilized.
Qiagen NV, of Venlo, the Netherlands, filed an application with Nasdaq to change its trading symbol, effective Feb. 15, from "QGENF" to "QGEN," since Nasdaq decided foreign companies no longer need to be designated as such. In other news, Qiagen announced that its wholly owned subsidiary, GenoVision Inc., licensed technology for haplotype-specific extraction (HSE) of DNA from Generation Biotech LLC, of Lawrenceville, N.J. GenoVision received exclusive rights for the worldwide commercialization of HSE in all applications.
Tissera Inc., of Herzlia, Israel, said an article on using embryonic pig liver, pancreas and lung as a source for transplantation will be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, available online. Using pig tissue to replace human organs could help address diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson's disease and liver failure, but the cells need to come from specific stages of an embryo's development.
Zealand Pharmaceuticals A/S, of Glostrup, Denmark, secured €13 million (US$17.2 million) in a second closing of its Series C round, in which international investors CDC Enterprises Innovation, AGF Private Equity and Life Sciences Partners participated. The company raised a similar sum in January. Zealand has raised about \3 million since its establishment in 1998. It aims to use the funds to accelerate in-house drug discovery and to in-license external products.