• Auvation Ltd., of Aberdeen, Scotland, entered a collaboration with ExpressOn BioSystems Ltd., of Roslin, Scotland, to validate new molecular targets in tumor cells. Using its technology, Auvation has identified more than 20 tumor markers, to which ExpressOn will apply its array technology to determine regions on corresponding RNA molecules that are accessible to silencing reagents, such as siRNA, antisense or ribozyme molecules. For its work, ExpressOn will receive an undisclosed up-front payment, followed by milestones on silencing reagents selected for clinical development.

• Benitec Ltd., of Queensland, Australia, said it settled a U.S.-based patent-infringement case with Ambion Inc., of Austin, Texas. As part of the settlement, it issued Ambion a worldwide nonexclusive license to make and sell DNA-directed RNAi-based products. Benitec said it expects to grant more such licenses down the road.

• BioFocus plc, of Chesterford, UK, entered a drug discovery collaboration with NeuroTargets Ltd., of Bristol, UK, to discover compounds that bind to an undisclosed receptor involved in nerve repair. NeuroTargets, which recently appointed David Kennard its CEO, has developed a patented technology for discovering novel and rarely expressed genes that are associated with neuropathy. The partners plan to out-license any clinical candidates arising from the collaboration. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• Bionomics Ltd., of Adelaide, Australia, said research on its angiogenesis drug target BN069 conducted at the Hanson Centre of the Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science, also in Adelaide, was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Results suggest that inhibitors of BN069 alone or in combination with other cancer drugs may be potent inhibitors of tumor cells and the angiogenic process. Bionomics is developing BN069 gene-silencing molecules as therapeutic candidates in collaboration with the Louisiana Gene Therapy Consortium.

• Biovation Ltd., of Aberdeen, Scotland, signed a research agreement to apply its immunogenicity assessment technologies to biopharmaceuticals designed by Pfizer Inc., of New York. Biovation, which will receive research revenues for its work, called the agreement an endorsement of the importance of T-cell epitopes in relation to prospective immunogenicity in patients.

• Bioventix Ltd., of Farnham, UK, is licensing its sheep monoclonal antibodies to Roche Diagnostics, of Basel, Switzerland. Roche will create and manufacture antibodies at its own facilities for use in clinical diagnostics products. Bioventix was formed in a management buyout from Xenova Group plc, of Slough, UK, in January. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

• Cancer Research Technology Ltd., the technology transfer arm of the medical charity Cancer Research UK, will grant free licenses to its European patents on the hereditary breast cancer gene BRCA2 to publicly funded and not-for-profit research laboratories. The patents are based on the research of Mike Stratton, carried out at the Institute of Cancer Research in London. Elsewhere, Pharminox Ltd., of Oxford, UK, agreed to a second licensing deal with Cancer Research, giving it rights to Phortress, a Phase I compound in a class of antitumor agents. The agreement also gives Pharminox access to related compounds. Phortress has been shown to be active against human breast, ovarian and colon cancer xenografts. In December Pharminox agreed to its first license with Cancer Research, giving it rights to a series of quinols.

• Evotec OAI AG, of Hamburg, Germany, and Seikagaku Corp., of Tokyo, entered a collaboration to identify small-molecule therapeutics for inflammatory diseases. Evotec will apply its assay development and high-throughput screening technologies to identify biologically active compounds from its library that interact with Seikagaku's disease targets.

• Genmab A/S, of Copenhagen, Denmark, began a Phase II study of HuMax-CD4 for refractory or relapsed non-cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. The international multicenter trial is expected to include about 20 patients who will receive 980 mg of HuMax-CD4 once weekly for 12 weeks. They will be followed until disease progression. The study's primary endpoint is objective tumor response from start of treatment to week 18. Separately, Genmab said Phase II data detailing the duration of patients' responses to HuMax-CD4 showed that 42 percent of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma patients achieved at least a partial response. The data stem from a study of 38 patients - 50 percent had at least a partial response at 560 mg and 75 percent at 980 mg.

• H. Lundbeck A/S, of Copenhagen, Denmark, exercised its option to have screened another G protein-coupled receptor target using Transfluor technology from Norak Biosciences Inc., of Research Triangle Park, N.C. The option was part of a December 2002 screening collaboration between the companies. Under the new agreement, Norak will develop a Transfluor cell line expressing the GPCR target of interest to Lundbeck, and then will screen the cell line on its high-throughput imaging systems against a compound library of Lundbeck's choice. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• MediGene AG, of Martinsried, Germany, acquired the anticancer drug candidates and the EndoTAG platform technology of Munich Biotech AG, of Munich, Germany. The deal expands MediGene's pipeline, in particular through the acquisition of MBT-0206, an anti-angiogenesis drug candidate that has completed several Phase I trials in different cancer indications in more than 120 patients. A syndicate of existing investors in the insolvent Munich Biotech are contributing its major assets and investing €4 million toward the further development of the products and technology at MediGene. In return, the syndicate will receive €12.5 million in MediGene shares, which after the transaction will correspond to a 12.7 percent share of MediGene. The newly issued shares are subject to a 12-month lockup period. As MBT-0206's development progresses, MediGene will make milestone payments, starting with Phase III. MediGene also is hiring key Munich Biotech employees, but will not assume any liabilities of the company.

• Medinox Inc., of Carlsbad, Calif., and PUMC Pharmaceutical Co., of Beijing, entered a partnership to develop and market NOX-100 to treat septic shock patients in China and South Korea. PUMC is responsible for registration, reimbursement, manufacturing and marketing of the product, while Medinox could receive milestone payments and royalties. NOX-100, or Norathiol, is the first in a series of small-molecule anti-nitric oxide agents. It has completed a Phase I/II trial.

• Medivir AB, of Huddinge, Sweden, and Novartis AG, of Basel, Switzerland, said they resolved the issue of partly overlapping patents in the U.S. relating to the Medivir ME-609 project by means of a free, two-way license agreement. The agreement gives Medivir exclusive rights to topical combination products containing the antiviral agent acyclovir, such as ME-609, or omaciclovir (H2G), Medivir's antiviral substance. Novartis was granted a nonexclusive license to certain antiviral combination products such as penciclovir, while Medivir will retain the exclusive rights to its formulation patent relating to combinations containing penciclovir. In countries outside the U.S., including the European Union, they said there is no conflict between the patents.

• MorphoSys AG, of Martinsried, Germany, and Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH, of Ingelheim, Germany, agreed to develop a therapeutic antibody against an undisclosed target molecule involved in cardiovascular diseases. MorphoSys will generate the antibody using its HuCAL GOLD technology. Boehringer Ingelheim will carry out preclinical and clinical development, as well as subsequent marketing of all resulting products. MorphoSys is eligible to receive milestone payments and royalties.

• Orexo Pharmaceuticals AB, of Uppsala, Sweden, raised SEK45 million (US$6 million) in new funding. Catella Capital, of Stockholm, Sweden, an asset management company with SEK14 billion under management, became a new investor, while existing shareholder HealthCap, of Stockholm, also participated in the transaction. Orexo said it is a drug delivery company.

• Oxford Immunotec Ltd., of Oxford, UK, launched a diagnostic test for tuberculosis based on its T-cell recognition technology. The test, T Spot-TB, has been approved for use in Europe and allows people who have been in contact with TB to be screened and treated before they develop the disease, the company said.

• Oy Jurilab Ltd., of Kuopio, Finland, identified more than 200 genes associated with acute myocardial infarction following a genomic study of a founder population based in eastern Finland. The genes include candidates that appear to confer protection against coronary disease. They were detected in a 20-year prospective study in which families containing several members with coronary disease were compared to healthy controls.

• Pluristem Life Systems Inc., of Haifa, Israel, received financing from the Office of the Chief Scientist to collaborate with Technion, Israel's Institute of Technology. The collaboration will work to develop Pluristem's next phase platform technology using biodegradable scaffolding in the PluriX bioreactor. The stromal-coated biodegradable scaffolds will create a biocompatible 3-dimensional environment to support hematopoietic stem cell expansion within the PluriX bioreactor.

• Protherics plc, of Runcorn, UK, completed its £10 million fund raising. Trading of the new shares began on Monday.

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