• Antisense Therapeutics Ltd., of Melbourne, Australia, and Isis Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Carlsbad, Calif., reported the results of a Phase I study of ATL-1102. It was well tolerated and a specific dose was selected for Phase II development. ATL-1102 is a second-generation antisense inhibitor of VLA-4 (very-late antigen-4). Inhibition of VLA-4 has been shown to have positive effects in multiple animal models of inflammatory disease, including MS, the company said.

• Arakis Ltd., of Little Chesterford, UK, initiated a Phase IIa trial in 96 rheumatoid arthritis patients to study the pharmacokinetics, safety and tolerability of a range of doses of AD452, a disease-modifying treatment for early stage RA. The trial is a double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study in patients already receiving stable background therapy. AD452 is the single isomer of a drug currently marketed in a different indication.

• Biovitrum AB, of Stockholm, Sweden, and Maxygen Inc., of Redwood City, Calif., signed an agreement for the manufacture of Maxygen's interferon beta material for Phase I and Phase II clinical development. The companies said Maxygen has designed an improved interferon beta product candidate for the treatment of multiple sclerosis with a profile designed to be superior to currently marketed products.

• Crucell NV, of Leiden, the Netherlands, and its contract manufacturer, DSM Biologics, of Groningen, the Netherlands, signed a PER.C6 research license agreement with PanGenetics BV, of Sittard, the Netherlands. PanGenetics will use the PER.C6 cell line for preclinical manufacturing of certain recombinant monoclonal antibody products. Crucell and DSM will receive an up-front payment and annual maintenance fees.

• Evogene Ltd., of Rehovot, Israel, and the French agricultural research center CIRAD signed a multiyear deal to develop abiotic stress-tolerant cotton. Evogene is focused on improving crops and the production of plant-derived products. The collaboration includes technology exchanges, screening by Evogene in high abiotic stress conditions in Israel of a broad collection of wild cotton germplasm from CIRAD and introduction into cotton of gene constructs discovered by Evogene.

• Evotec OAI AG, of Hamburg, Germany, and Neuronova AG, of Munich, Germany, entered a drug discovery agreement to identify small-molecule compounds that interact with a Neuronova target involved in the treatment of depression and anxiety. Evotec will apply its capabilities in cell line construction, assay development and screening on a cellular target, and will provide profiling services to further characterize selected hits for progression.

The German Resource Center for Genome Research in Berlin said it is providing a service to compile protein-expression profiles by means of dedicated antibody chips. In addition to diagnostic applications, the organization said the chips can be used to identify proteins relevant to cell development, for toxicological studies and to determine the influence of environmental factors on a cell's protein-expression pattern.

• GPC Biotech AG, of Martinsried, Germany, filed a registration statement earlier this week with the SEC for an offering expected Tuesday of up to 8.58 million shares. The company will offer up to 8.3 million new shares, including an overallotment option of up to 1.1 million shares, and certain selling shareholders will offer up to 300,000 shares. Existing holders of GPC shares will have the right to subscribe for one new share for each three shares held. Goldman, Sachs & Co. and Lehman Brothers Inc. are joint lead managers, while Pacific Growth Equities LLC and WestLB AG are co-lead managers.

• Hadassah Medical Organization and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem signed an agreement to create a biotechnology park in Ein Kerem, Israel, at which they share a campus for the Hadassah University Hospital and Hebrew University's schools of medicine, pharmacy, dentistry and public health. In two years an 8,000-square-meter building will be completed to house research and development companies and incubator companies, and also biomedical enterprises with venture capital funds. The park will be co-funded by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor's Investment Promotion Center in Tel Aviv.

• Innogenetics NV, of Ghent, Belgium, entered a worldwide licensing agreement with Takeda Chemical Industries Ltd., of Osaka, Japan. Innogenetics gains access to Takeda's patent rights for the diagnostic and research use of beta-amyloid antibodies. The abnormal accumulation of beta-amyloid protein in the brain is one of the pathological hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The Israeli Ministry of Health notified the 45 health funds, hospitals, and genetic and oncological institutes that health funds are obligated, by law, to cover the costs of genetic testing. That refers to blood tests for BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, estimated at less than NIS400 (US$88) each, for members defined as high-risk for breast and ovarian cancer. More than 160 members were listed by the ministry in May 2003.

• Jerini AG, of Berlin, closed a €31 million Series B round of financing. The company expects to use the proceeds to prepare for the expected 2006 launch of its lead product, Icatibant, for angioedema. The financing was led by new investor HealthCap, of Stockholm, Sweden, and current investors Munich, Germany-based TVM Techno Venture Management and London-based 3i. Existing investors that participated were Sandares Morris Harris, of New York; PolyTechnos Funds, of Munich; and the Berlin-based firms IBB-Beteiligungsgesellschaft and bmp, as well as private investors. Bjorn Odlander, of HealthCap, and Klaus Stockemann, of 3i, will join Jerini's supervisory board. Jerini has a pipeline of several preclinical and two Phase II projects with its Peptides-To-Drugs discovery platform. Icatibant will enter pivotal trials in the third quarter. The company now has raised more than €55 million.

• Lonza Group Ltd., of Basel, Switzerland, and Isotechnika Inc., of Edmonton, Alberta, formalized a manufacturing agreement in which Lonza will manufacture trans-ISA247 for use in Isotechnika's upcoming clinical trials. ISA247 is an immunosuppressant that has completed a Phase II trial for psoriasis and Phase IIa trial for kidney transplantation.

• Mologen AG, of Berlin, reported positive results on Midge and dSLIM, its DNA-based immunization technologies. At a meeting of the American Society of Gene Therapy in Minneapolis, the company discussed the safety profile of dSLIM. At a congress on tumor immunity in Seoul, South Korea, Mologen presented preclinical and clinical data showing low side effects in Midge- and dSLIM-based cancer therapies.

• MWG Biotech AG, of Ebersberg, Germany, entered a co-marketing agreement with Genedata AG, of Basel, Switzerland. MWG will include software from Genedata in its sequencing and annotation services. The Genedata products give a broader biological context to the data from MWG's products. The collaboration is aimed at large sequencing projects involving both single-cell and multicell organisms.

• NicOx SA, of Sophia-Antipolis, France, presented Phase II results on its lead CINOD compound, HCT 3012, at the European League Against Rheumatism annual congress in Berlin. The results demonstrate that after six weeks of treatment with HCT 3012, osteoarthritis patients experienced pain relief equivalent to rofecoxib. At equi-analgesic doses, patients treated with rofecoxib experienced an increase in systolic blood pressure. In contrast, HCT 3012 showed no statistical difference compared to placebo.

• Pluristem Life Systems Inc., of Haifa, Israel, appointed Menachem Ze'evi CEO. Ze'evi recently worked as CEO of the wound-healing and tissue-regeneration company Polyheal Ltd.

• Qiagen NV, of Venlo, the Netherlands, and Protedyne Corp., of Windsor, Conn., entered a collaboration to develop a fully automated, high-throughput sample-preparation system for molecular diagnostic customers. The collaboration is aimed at developing optimized ultra-high-throughput nucleic acid-purification procedures on Protedyne's BioCube Systems.

The Russel Berrie Foundation is helping fund a diabetes research center launched this week with NIS125 million (US$3 million) to forge interdisciplinary cooperation among some 300 Israeli medical and scientific researchers and the international community. Funding from Russel Berrie is expected to cover the costs of the first two years and half of the costs of the whole endeavor.

• Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel, and Teva Pharmaceuticals Ltd., of Jerusalem, are co-developing an immunological technique to eliminate cancer cells based on the research of Yoram Reiter from Technion's department of biology. Reiter showed in animal studies that cancer cells can be targeted in vivo, found and then bioengineered into their own demise. Teva will continue the development of the targeting molecule for application to a range of human cancers.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Medical Science (Rinshoken) and Aclara BioSciences Inc., of Mountain View, Calif., entered a collaboration to evaluate breast cancer patient samples to validate candidate biomarkers detected with Aclara's eTag technology. Aclara will provide research funding to Rinshoken and will have the ability to develop the biomarkers as clinical diagnostics. Rinshoken's newly established Translational Research Center will coordinate the project. Rinshoken will collect tumor samples and blinded patient data, including treatment histories and outcomes, and Aclara will evaluate the samples for responsiveness to certain targeted therapies, including Herceptin.

• Xenova Group plc, of Slough, UK, said results of two Phase II studies of TA-CD, a vaccine for cocaine addiction, were reported at the College on Problems of Drug Dependence meeting in Puerto Rico. Results from both dose-escalation studies showed that the maximum mean antibody response occurred between 70 days and 90 days post-vaccination, with specific cocaine antibodies persisting for at least six months. Three-quarters of the relapse prevention study group maintained abstinence from cocaine use during the 12-week study duration, with 100 percent relapsing after 12 months, when antibody levels had dropped.

• Xerion Pharmaceuticals AG, of Munich, Germany, and Stemline Therapeutics Inc., of New York, entered a collaboration to identify protein targets expressed on cancer stem cells. Xerion will apply its Xstream technology to Stemline's cancer stem cell platform, StemScreen, to identify druggable oncology targets. The companies will share equally and have the option to co-develop targets arising from the collaboration.

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