• Altana AG, of Bad Homburg, Germany, launched Alvesco (ciclesonide) in the UK. The product is an inhaled corticosteroid for the treatment of adults suffering from persistent asthma. Its small particle size allows for greater lung deposition and lower oral deposition, the company said, and it is converted to its active form by esterases in the lung. The company, which also has received approval in Germany, plans to begin marketing it there next month. Further launches worlwide will follow later this year.

• Argenta Discovery Ltd., of Harlow, UK, entered a two-year drug discovery collaboration on diabetes with Novartis AG, of Basel, Switzerland.

• Ark Therapeutics Group plc, of London, was granted a European patent for Trinam, its technology for preventing the blocking of blood vessels after graft access surgery. Trinam uses a biodegradable collagen collar to deliver vascular endothelial growth factor gene via an adenoviral vector. The initial target market for Trinam, in Phase II trials, is hemodialysis access graft surgery.

• Astex Technology Ltd., of Cambridge, UK, was granted a patent on the use of the crystal structure of the drug-metabolizing enzyme P450 3A4. The company said as many as 50 percent of all known drugs interact with that form of cytochrome P450, representing a major issue in drug discovery.

• Avexa Ltd., of Melbourne, Australia, licensed the HIV compound, SPD754, from Shire Pharmaceuticals Group plc, of Basingstoke, UK, which is divesting products to focus on later-stage drugs for central nervous system, gastrointestinal and renal diseases. Avexa takes on full responsibility for the worldwide development of the product, which is in Phase II and has an anticipated launch target of 2009. Avexa has the right to commercialize SPD754 everywhere except North America, where Shire retains rights. Terms include an undisclosed reciprocal royalty and a A$2 million (US$1.5 million) equity position in Avexa. Shire would have an option to acquire 4 million more shares following the successful completion of the Phase IIb trial.

• Biobase GmbH, of Wolfenbuttel, Germany, acquired Proteome Inc., of Beverly, Mass., which had been a wholly-owned subsidiary of Incyte Corp. Proteome produces the BioKnowledge Library. Biobase specializes in biological databases, and the acquisition triples the size of the company. Financial details were not disclosed.

• Biosignal Ltd., of Sydney, Australia, engaged Dr. Reddy's Laboratories, of Hyderabad, India, to develop a large-scale manufacturing procedure and synthesize quantities of Biosignal's antibacterial furanone compounds. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• Cerep SA, of Paris, reported that Phase I trials of an LFA-1 receptor antagonist it is co-developing with Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., of New York, in immuno-inflammatory disorders have been completed and that BMS will initiate Phase IIa trials during this quarter. Cerep is due to receive milestone payments at certain development stages, as well as royalties on future sales if the product reaches the market. Earlier this month, Cerep completed the takeover of Molecular Engine Laboratories, of Paris, an acquisition effected through the issue of 400,000 new Cerep shares. MEL was founded in 2000 to exploit a novel therapeutic approach to the treatment of cancer.

• ChemGenex Pharmaceuticals Ltd., of Melbourne, Australia, raised A$8.2 million (US$6.2 million) through a 15 percent placement of ordinary shares to existing and new shareholders. Shares were sold at A$0.55 each. Funds will be used to accelerate the clinical development programs for ChemGenex's targeted cancer compounds in Phase II trials: Ceflatonin for leukemia and Quinamed for solid tumors. The company also said it expects to advance its preclinical pipeline of therapeutics in the fields of oncology, diabetes, obesity and depression.

• Cryptome Pharmaceuticals Ltd., of Melbourne, Australia, said animal studies show that its lead drug, CR001, can reduce the tendency of blood to clot and works within minutes of administration. CR001 is a fragment of a naturally occurring human protein that inhibits the tissue factor-initiated pathway of coagulation. It might offer benefits as an anti-thrombosis treatment, the company said.

• DanioLabs Ltd., of Cambridge, UK, a drug discovery company, raised £3.2 million (US$5.96 million) in its first funding round. The money will be used to develop the company's disease models and expand its range of screening services. The round was led by Cambridge Gateway Fund with Merifin and NVM, plus existing and new angel investors.

• Domantis Ltd., of Cambridge, UK, said it will take part in the Bloodomics Consortium, a European Commission-funded research network, to discover new targets and treatments in cardiovascular disease. Domantis will validate targets and discover domain antibodies to those targets. The 14 partners in the Bloodomics project will receive funding of €9 million (US$11.7 million) over the next four years.

• Epigenomics AG, of Berlin, was informed by the majority of its venture capital investors that any sale of shares, which were subject to a six-month lock-up period that expired on Jan. 14, would take place in a jointly executed and coordinated procedure. Morgan Stanley has been appointed to manage the process. The agreement is binding for all investors throughout the year 2005 with opt-out windows every four months.

• Evolutec Group plc, of Oxford, UK, was granted a European patent covering the use of its lead product rEV131 in the treatment of allergic rhinitis. The product is due to enter Phase II European trials later this year.

• Evotec OAI AG, of Hamburg, Germany, appointed Mary Tanner to its supervisory board. Tanner has more than 20 years of experience with investment banks Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns, where she developed the biotechnology practice, and from which she retired in 2004.

• Galapagos Genomics NV, of Mechelen, Belgium, stands to receive a milestone payment from Boehringer Ingelheim, of Ingelheim, Germany, which reported it had used Galapagos' SilenceSelect gene knockdown platform to identify a number of genes shown to influence viral replication in human cells. The SilenceSelect collection, offered by Galapagos' genomics services unit, Galadeno, is an adenoviral collection containing siRNA knockdown sequences targeting human druggable transcripts. Under terms of their October 2003 agreement, Galapagos gained up-front technology access fees and is eligible for further option and license fees during the program. Further financial terms were not disclosed.

• Gen-Probe Inc., of San Diego, said that bioMerieux SA, of Marcy l'Etoile, France, exercised an option to develop diagnostic products for certain undisclosed disease targets using Gen-Probe's patented ribosomal RNA technologies, pursuant to terms of an agreement first disclosed on Oct. 6. In exchange for those rights, bioMerieux paid Gen-Probe a $4.5 million license fee. BioMerieux also retains options to develop diagnostic products for other disease targets by paying Gen-Probe up to an additional $3 million by the end of 2006.

• The German Resource Center for Genome Research (RZPD) in Berlin began a partnership with B-Bridge International, of Sunnyvale, Calif., to distribute RZPD's tools and services in North America and Japan. The nonprofit RZPD produces genomics and proteomics tools. Financial details were not disclosed.

• Inpharmatica plc, of London, appointed John Lisle, previously CEO of Profile Therapeutics plc, as CEO. He replaces Malcolm Weir, who is staying with the bioinformatics company as chief scientific officer.

• Institut Pasteur, of Paris, has had its rights to the homologous recombination technology licensed to its spin-off company, Cellectis SA, confirmed by the European Patent Office. The patent, No. 419621, covers applications in areas such as the production of recombinant proteins, gene therapy and the development of animal models. The office confirmed the patent in response to the attacks of several companies seeking to protect their own work in the field. Cellectis has used the technology to develop genome-engineering tools and a therapeutic approach using genome surgery by meganucleases.

• IP2IPO Group plc, of London, acquired Techtran Group Ltd., the technology transfer arm of Leeds University, in a £16.1 million (US$30.2 million) cash and shares deal that values Techtran at £20 million. Techtran, set up in 2002, receives a 30 percent interest in companies it creates, in return for providing technology transfer services to the university. It has nine companies in its portfolio and £1.8 million cash. The acquisition follows a £2 million investment by IP2IPO for a 20 percent stake in Techtran in July.

• Jerini AG, of Berlin, began a discovery and development collaboration with Alcon Research Ltd. to find new drugs for ophthalmology. The multiyear, multitarget partnership will use Jerini's peptides-to-drugs discovery platform to create and validate peptidomimetic and small-molecule drug candidates. Jerini will receive up-front and license fees, as well as personnel funding. It is entitled to milestone payments and global royalties on products.

• MorphoSys AG, of Martinsried, Germany, acquired privately held companies, Biogenesis Ltd., of Poole, UK, and its sister company, Brentwood, N.H.-based Biogenesis Inc., for £5.25 million (US$9.8 million), less net debt of £700,000 cash. The two Biogenesis companies will become wholly owned subsidiaries of MorphoSys and will be integrated with MorphoSys' research antibody business unit, Antibodies by Design.

• NeuroSearch A/S, of H rsholm, Denmark, received a milestone payment of $5 million from Boehringer Ingelheim, of Ingelheim, Germany, related to their development of NS2330 in Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. NS2330 is undergoing three Phase II trials, involving a total of 930 patients. Boehringer Ingelheim is expected to decide on a Phase III trial this summer.

• Neurotech SA, of Paris, appointed Al Reaves vice president of clinical development. He has experience with Novartis Ophthalmics, where he was medical group leader. Neurotech is nearing completion of a Phase I/II trial of NT-501, its lead encapsulated cell technology product, for the treatment of retinitis pigmentosa. The results of the trial are due in the second quarter, but Neurotech says it already is "actively preparing for entering into Phase II trials" in both RP and the dry-eye form of age-related macular degeneration.

• NeuTec Pharma plc, of Manchester, UK, started to supply Mycograb, its lead product for treating invasive candidiasis, on a named-patient basis. The product, developed from a naturally occurring human antibody was granted a European patent, also.

• NicOx SA, of Sophia-Antipolis, France, completed full recruitment in its Phase II trial of NCX 4016 for the treatment of peripheral arterial obstructive disease (PAOD). Four hundred fifty patients with symptomatic PAOD and intermittent claudication have been recruited. The study was designed to evaluate the clinical effects of NCX 4016 on clinical parameters in PAOD, with particular regard to walking distance. The primary endpoint is the change in maximum treadmill walking distance after six months.

• Novogen Ltd., of Sydney, Australia, received a milestone royalty payment of $863,000 under a license agreement with St. Louis-based Solae LLC, a joint venture between DuPont's Protein Technologies International and Bunge Ltd. The companies entered their agreement in November 1997, which gives Solae worldwide rights outside of Australia and New Zealand to certain Novogen soy isoflavone technology. Under the agreement, Solae makes regular milestone payments and pays royalties on sales of its products covered by the Novogen patents.

• Oxford BioMedica plc, of Oxford, UK, said it is at the early stage of merger discussions that might lead to an offer for the company. Oxford focuses on gene therapy.

• Oxford Gene Technology Ltd., of Oxford, UK, settled its patent-infringement dispute with Mergen Ltd., of San Leandro, Calif., granting Mergen a license for its DNA-expression chips in the U.S., Europe and Japan.

• Pharmagene plc, of Royston, UK, said Alistair Riddell, CEO, is leaving the company, and it announced the start of Phase I trials of PGN1164 for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. That now is the company's lead product, after PGN0052 failed in a Phase IIa trial in cystic fibrosis in December, prompting a 24 percent fall in the share price. Ronald Openshaw, chief financial officer, will be acting CEO until a successor is found. At the same time, Pharmagene appointed Chris Moyses, formerly chief medical officer of Oxford Glycosciences plc, to the post of research and development director.

• Pharming Group NV, of Leiden, the Netherlands, raised €7 million (US$9.1 million) from warrants and options exercised by the company's shareholders and management. Pharming said it secured total financing of €42 million in 2004 and 2005. The company, which develops protein therapeutics for genetic disorders, specialty products for surgical indications and intermediates for various applications, also completed the acquisition of ProBio International Holdings Pte. Ltd., of Melbourne, Australia, to expand commercial activities with recombinant human lactoferrin.

• Phytopharm plc, of Godmanchester, UK, said a scheduled interim data review for the ongoing Phase II proof-of-principle study of PYM50028 showed no associated safety concerns. The study will continue. Also, the number of subjects will increase from 200 to 238. The compound is an orally active, synthetic, neuroprotective and neuroregenerative product that is under development as a treatment for Alzheimer's disease. The study is being conducted in the UK under the terms of a clinical trial authorization.

• RNAi Co. Ltd., of Tokyo, licensed for its RNA interference drug discovery efforts the MetaCore technology of GeneGo Inc., of St. Joseph, Mich. MetaCore is an integrated platform for the analysis of different types of experimental data in drug discovery. The companies also agreed to collaborate in platform development. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• SR Pharma plc, of London, is to seek shareholder approval to issue shares for the acquisition of another unnamed company. That follows the announcement in November that the London Stock Exchange-listed company was in late-stage talks with a potential acquisition.

• ThromboGenics Ltd., of Dublin, Ireland, began a 50-patient Phase II trial to evaluate recombinant microplasmin in patients with vitreoretinal disorders, also referred to as diseases of the "back of the eye." Microplasmin is a truncated form of the human protein plasmin, and ThromboGenics said the product could simplify vitrectomy by inducing posterior vitreous detachment in patients with retinal conditions such as diabetic retinopathy and macular edema. Depending on results from the trial, ThromboGenics plans to submit an investigational new drug application to the FDA for initiation of a U.S. trial program.

• The UK Health Protection Agency (HPA), of London, announced a two-year collaboration with Emergent BioSolutions Inc., of Gaithersburg, Md., to develop vaccines against botulism. They will share technology and expertise, with the aim of developing toxoid and recombinant vaccines. There is no licensed botulism vaccine. Research and development will be carried out at HPA's Centre for Emergency Preparedness and Response at Porton Down, Wiltshire. Emergent will pay $2 million to fund the work and will hold worldwide exclusive rights everywhere apart from the UK.

• Vernalis plc, of Reading, UK, said its partner Serono SA, of Geneva, started a Phase I trial of a selective inhibitor of matrix metalloproteinase inhibitor-12, triggering an undisclosed milestone payment to Vernalis. That is the first compound to enter the clinic in a collaboration on the use of metalloproteinase inhibitors in the treatment of inflammatory disease, agreed to in October 2000.

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