• Ablynx NV, of Ghent, Belgium, entered a partnership with Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals Inc., a subsidiary of the Procter & Gamble Co., of Cincinnati. Ablynx will use its Nanobody platform to discover and develop drug candidates against a G protein-coupled receptor target specified by P&G, which will provide research and development funding, pre-determined milestone payments and royalties on commercialization. Ablynx will discover Nanobodies that meet a predefined profile. P&G will handle preclinical and clinical development of lead Nanobodies, as well as commercialization of any resulting products.

• Artemis Pharmaceuticals GmbH, of Cologne, Germany, and Evotec Neurosciences GmbH, of Hamburg, Germany, signed an agreement in mouse genetics. As part of the cooperation, Artemis will apply its ArteMice technology platforms to assist Evotec in the generation of genetically engineered mouse models. Financial details were not disclosed.

• Astex Technology Ltd., of Cambridge, UK, elucidated the 3-dimensional structure of the human cytochrome P450 3A4. It is estimated that as many as 50 percent of all known drugs interact with P450 3A4, and Astex said as its impact on drug metabolism is the least understood of the P450 cytochromes.

• Biotics Technology, of Cambridge, UK, filed a patent on a novel version of the polyketide borrelidin, which it has engineered to be an anti-angiogenic and cytotoxic agent. The company has a platform technology for the rational design of polyketide drugs.

• Can-Fite BioPharma Ltd., of Petach-Tikva, Israel, is finalizing its reincorporation as a U.S. company and has appointed New Jersey-based Ashley Palmer as CEO. Palmer joined Can-Fite in February as the U.S.-based chief business officer. Palmer was the founding CEO of INO Therapeutics Inc. Can-Fite originally was an Israeli company that began operations at the end of 2000. It is engaged in two Phase II trials of its lead drug CF101, one for the treatment of colorectal cancer and the other for rheumatoid arthritis.

• Celltech Group plc, of Slough, UK, applied to cancel the listing of its ordinary shares on the UK Listing Authority and on the London Stock Exchange. The company, which two months ago agreed to be bought for $2.7 billion by UCB SA, of Brussels, Belgium, expects the cancellation to take effect next month. After that, Celltech also expects that the New York Stock Exchange will delist its American depository receipts.

• Clinomics Biosciences Inc., of Cambridge, UK, the wholly owned subsidiary of Cytomyx Holdings plc, signed an agreement with the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute to jointly develop technologies for use in cancer research. Clinomics' technology, called Tissue MicroArrays, allows the identification of gene- and protein-expression patterns in tumors on a high-throughput basis. Data will be used to generate "molecular signatures" to define cancer patient subgroups, Clinomics said.

• Compugen Ltd., of Tel Aviv, Israel, said an article in Nature Biotechnology highlighted the systematic identification of adenosine to inosine RNA-editing sites in the human transcriptome. The discovery increases the known A to I editing sites from about 100 to more than 10,000. The company said it used its LEADS computational biology platform, which uses algorithms to create a predictive view of the complete transcriptome of complex organisms. RNA editing involves changes to small nucleotides after DNA has been transcribed into RNA. The deficiency or misregulation in that type of editing has been associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, malignant gliomas, epilepsy and depression. On Monday, Compugen's stock (NASDAQ:CGEN) gained 93 cents, or 22.7 percent, to close at $5.03.

• Elan Drug Delivery Inc., a unit of Dublin, Ireland-based Elan Corp. plc, and EntreMed Inc., of Rockville, Md., entered a clinical supply agreement to reformulate and manufacture Panzem in an oral liquid format. The supply will support EntreMed's clinical oncology program planned to begin in early 2005. Elan is manufacturing Panzem using its NanoCrystal technology that enhances product bioavailability and absorption.

• Epigenomics AG, of Berlin, completed Germany's first biotech IPO in more than two years on the Frankfurt exchange. Shares were priced at €9 each, below the range of €11.90 to €14.50 that the company previously had suggested. The stock closed at €8.56 at the end of its first day of trading. (See BioWorld International, July 7, 2004.)

• Europroteome AG, of Berlin, extended its research collaboration with Abbott Laboratories, of Abbott Park, Ill., for the discovery and development of breast cancer diagnostic tests upon successfully reaching a project milestone. The extension triggers a milestone payment from Abbott to Europroteome. Under the February agreement, Europroteome is applying proteomic and bioinformatic technologies to analyze serum samples from women with breast cancer. Data are aligned with a panel of cancer markers available from Abbott on its automated immunoassay platforms.

• Evotec OAI AG, of Hamburg, Germany, raised €7.5 million in a private stock placement among European institutional investors. The capital increase of 2.5 million new shares was led by Sal. Oppenheim, and the shares were allocated at €3 each. Evotec closed trading Monday at €3.26. Separately, Evotec was chosen by Biogen Idec Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., as one of Biogen Idec's service providers for chemical process research and development and cGMP manufacturing. The companies have expanded their relationship under a master services agreement to progress one of Biogen Idec's development candidates through preclinical testing into clinical trials through provision of Evotec's chemical and pharmaceutical development platform, EVOdevelop.

• Gene Co., of Hong Kong, and Cepheid Inc., of Sunnyvale, Calif., executed a nonexclusive distribution agreement for distribution of its products in China and Hong Kong. The nonexclusive, three-year agreement is for Cepheid's SmartCycler systems, accessories and OmniMix HS reagents.

• GlaxoSmithKline plc, of London, and Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., received marketing approval from the European Commission for Telzir (foseamprenavir) to treat HIV infection in adults in combination with other HIV medications. Vertex earned a $1.5 million milestone payment in connection with the approval. Protease inhibitors, like Telzir, act by inhibiting the HIV-1 protease enzyme, leading to the formation of immature virus and preventing the infection of new cells. Telzir has demonstrated its ability when combined with other antiretroviral drugs to reduce the concentrations of HIV in plasma in both antiretroviral treatment-na ve and -experienced patients. Vertex and GSK co-discovered Telzir and will co-promote the product in key markets in Europe. The FDA approved Telzir (called Lexiva in the U.S.) last fall. Also, GSK and partner Avant Immunotherapeutics Inc., of Needham, Mass., said Mexican authorities approved the Rotarix vaccine for marketing in that country for the prevention of gastroenteritis caused by rotavirus. Rotarix is an oral, two-dose, live attenuated vaccine developed from a single human strain designed to protect against multiple rotavirus strains and provide early protection before the onset of infection.

• Haptogen Ltd., of Aberdeen, UK, was granted a European patent on its DNA-binding domain extrusion display technology for the display and identification of individual clones from antibody and peptide libraries. The company is applying the technology to the discovery and development of human antibodies against infectious disease organisms. It has identified leads against the signaling molecules of Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, preventing replication.

• Jerini AG, of Berlin, transferred its peptide technologies business unit to a wholly owned subsidiary called JPT Peptide Technologies GmbH intended to further growth and increase market penetration. JPT will provide peptide-based products and services, while Jerini will focus on drug discovery and development.

• Lombard Odier Darier Hentsch, of Geneva, and the direct investment arm of New York-based Pequot Capital Management Inc., Pequot Ventures, entered a strategic relationship. Under the collaboration, Pequot will assume responsibility for the private equity and venture capital investments made by the private Swiss banker in the life sciences sector through its LODH Immunology Fund.

• Micap plc, of Newton-le-Willows, UK, announced a Phase I trial of its micro-encapsulated biocide in the treatment of patients with burns infected with hospital-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infection. The 40-patient randomized trial will assess both safety and efficacy.

• Micromet AG, of Munich, Germany, reached an agreement with Merck & Co. Inc., of Whitehouse Station, N.J., granting Merck a research license for the patents in single-chain antibodies that are jointly held by Micromet and Enzon Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Bridgewater, N.J. Micromet will receive an up-front payment. Annual maintenance fees will be shared between Micromet and Enzon. It is the fifth license agreement covering single-chain antibodies closed by the partnership of Micromet and Enzon.

• MorphoSys AG, of Munich, Germany, and Novoplant GmbH, of Gatersleben, Germany, signed a collaboration for the development of therapeutic antibodies in animal health applications. Under the three-year agreement, Novoplant received a license from MorphoSys for the development and commercialization of therapeutic antibodies as feed components for use in veterinary medicine. Novoplant will pay a technology-access fee to MorphoSys for the use of the HuCAL Gold technology in addition to annual licensing fees. Additionally, MorphoSys could receive milestone fees and royalties for the development and marketing of any resulting products.

• MWG Biotech AG, of Ebersberg, Germany, and Innovadyne Technologies Inc., of Santa Rosa, Calif., entered a collaboration to provide a product targeted toward the protein crystallography market. The product combines MWG Biotech's Theonyx lab-automation robot system with the non-contact dispense capabilities of Innovadyne's Nanodrop system, resulting in a platform for low-volume protein crystallization applications.

• Neuro3d, of Mulhouse, France, said ANVAR, the French Agency for Innovation, provided the company €900,000 in funding to support further clinical development of the phosphodiesterase-4 inhibitor ND1251 as a potential treatment for depression. ANVAR also has supported the company's preclinical development of ND1251 and the Phase I development of ocaperidone. Phase I trials with ND1251 recently were initiated to establish safety, tolerability and pharmacokinetics, as well as to demonstrate brain activity.

• PharmaMar SA, of Madrid, Spain, began Phase II trials of Kahalalide F in non-small-cell lung cancer and melanoma. The primary endpoint of the open-label lung cancer study is response rate. Secondary objectives include further analysis of the product's pharmacokinetics and safety profile. The endpoints of the open-label advanced malignant melanoma study are the same.

• Pharmaxis Ltd., of Sydney, Australia, completed enrollment in its Phase II trial to evaluate the effects of Bronchitol on patients with bronchiectasis. The double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover trial includes 59 children and adults from age 15 to 70 who suffer from the respiratory disease, a form of chronic obstructive lung disease. Its primary objective is to compare the effects of twice-daily Bronchitol on the disability and handicap associated with bronchiectasis before and after treatment, as well as against placebo.

• Pharming Group NV, of Leiden, the Netherlands, entered an agreement to obtain broad licenses to patents belonging to Infigen Inc., of DeForest, Wis. More specifically, Pharming gained worldwide, nonexclusive, royalty-free, non-terminable licenses from Infigen for patents on nuclear transfer and associated technologies. The licensing agreement will replace earlier agreements between the companies, and Infigen will relinquish claims to any milestone payments for product development as defined under earlier agreements. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• PolyNovo Biomaterials Pty. Ltd., of Perth, Australia, formed an alliance with Imperial College London to further develop aspects of the company's polymer technology for bone repair. PolyNovo was established in May by CSIRO, Australia's national research agency, and Xceed Biotechnology Ltd., also of Perth; both own 50 percent of the company. PolyNovo is developing biocompatible and biodegradable polymers that can be formulated as an injectable gel that cures in situ or on demand, promotes tissue growth and controls the rate of degradation.

• PPL Therapeutics plc, formerly of Edinburgh, UK, said shareholders agreed to take the company back into private ownership. They will receive 6.2 pence per share, with the remnants of PPL, developer of Dolly the sheep, passing to Innovation Development Ltd., of London, a technology-management company. The payout values PPL at about £7.4 million (US$13.8 million).

• Prana Biotechnology Ltd., of Melbourne, Australia, said data reported at the International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders in Philadelphia showed that it is the inappropriate interaction of beta amyloid with brain metals copper and zinc that leads to disease progression. The company's co-founder detailed how an FDA-approved antibiotic called clioquinol detects amyloid pathology in brain tissue and how the drug arrives at the appropriate biochemical target in living transgenic mice and in post-mortem tissue from patients with Alzheimer's disease.

• Progen Industries Ltd., of Brisbane, Australia, reported the beginning of the fourth and the largest in the series of PI-88 Phase II trials. The trial will evaluate PI-88, the company's lead cancer compound, in patients with primary liver cancer following surgical removal of the primary tumor. The objective of the trial will be to determine the number of patients with recurrence over 48 weeks post-surgery with or without PI-88 as adjuvant therapy.

• Proteo Biotech AG, of Kiel, Germany, said that Elafin, which is produced in a recombinant process, passed all preclinical trials focusing on its effectiveness and compatibility. Elafin is an inhibitor of human elastase and proteinase 3, and the company said it shows promise in the treatment of tissue and muscle damage.

• Syngenta Ltd., of Basel, Switzerland, and Cambria Biosciences LLC, of Woburn, Mass., formed a three-year collaboration to elucidate the mechanism of action of small-molecule compounds supplied by Syngenta, to guide the discovery and development of new classes of safe, effective insecticides. Syngenta will provide full research funding and certain in-kind resources to Cambria. Specific financial terms were not disclosed.

• The Speedel Group, of Basel, Switzerland, received development-related milestone payments from Novartis Pharma, of Bridgewater, N.J., for Aliskiren (SPP 100). The payments include both a cash element and an equity stake by Novartis Pharma in Speedel. Further details were not disclosed. Aliskiren is a first-in-class oral renin inhibitor that has demonstrated potential for the treatment of hypertension, the company said.

• Xenova Group plc, of Slough, UK, reported initial results from the second clinical trial of TA-NIC, the company's therapeutic vaccine being developed for the treatment of nicotine addiction. Sixty smokers were recruited into the study. No drug-related serious adverse events were seen in any cohort and faster and more rapid onset of anti-nicotine antibody response was achieved.

No Comments