• Algeta AS, of Oslo, Norway, said findings published in the May 2004 issue of Nuclear Medicine and Biology describe the potential usefulness of liposomes as carriers for alpha particle-emitting radionuclides. The data demonstrate that alpha particle-emitting actinium and radium radionuclides might be loaded into pre-formed PEG-liposomes. The formulations appear to be stable in serum with low release of the radionuclide, indicating the potential as carriers in targeted cancer therapies, the company said.

• Ardana Bioscience, of Edinburgh, UK, started a Phase IIa trial of Teverelix LA, a sustained-release gonadotrophin-releasing hormone antagonist, in patients with prostate cancer. A second Phase IIa trial in patients with benign prostate hyperplasia will begin this week.

• Avidex Ltd., of Milton Park, UK, formed a collaboration with Active Biotech AB, of Lund, Sweden, to create targeted immunotherapeutics for cancer. Active Biotech will supply its intellectual property, knowledge and clinical experience on its super-antigen protein, while Avidex will supply its platform of tumor antigen-specific human monoclonal T-cell receptors (mTCRs). The companies will combine the super-antigen with the mTCRs as a new fusion protein. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• Bavarian Nordic A/S, of Copenhagen, Denmark, reported positive results in the global development program of Imvamune as a third-generation MVA smallpox vaccine. Results from the Phase II trial in 165 healthy volunteers reconfirmed the strong safety and immunogenicity profile of the vaccine as reported from an earlier Phase I trial. All volunteers who received the highest dose level of Imvamune exhibited an immune response, the company said, demonstrated by a 94.2 percent seroconversion after one vaccination and 100 percent after two vaccinations.

• Benitec Ltd., of Queensland, Australia, is paying about $5.5 million to acquire Avocel Inc., of Sunnyvale, Calif. Through the transaction, Benitec gained an advanced therapeutic development program using DNA-directed RNAi (ddRNAi) to target the hepatitis C virus, and established Benitec Inc. as its a wholly owned U.S. subsidiary. Benitec, which expects that a ddRNAi-based therapeutic will enter the clinic next year, is issuing 7.6 million shares to Avocel, representing about 9 percent of Benitec's share capital.

• Bionomics Ltd., of Adelaide, Australia, said findings published in Human Molecular Genetics point to the identification of a susceptibility gene for a common form of epilepsy, known as generalized epilepsy with febrile seizures. The gene is a subunit of the GABA-A receptor, an ion channel that is the subject of Bionomics' drug discovery program for epilepsy and anxiety. The research was conducted by the company's collaborators at Women's and Children's Hospital, in conjunction with the University of Melbourne and U.S. researchers in Tennessee.

• Cambridge Antibody Technology Group plc, of Cambridge, UK, said its case against Abbott Laboratories, of Abbott Park, Ill., over the royalty rate for the rheumatoid arthritis drug Humira will start in the High Court in London in November, with an expected length of three weeks. Humira, an anti-TNF-alpha antibody discovered by CAT, had full-year sales of $280 million in 2003 and $149 million in the first quarter of 2004. To date, CAT has received royalty income of £2.7 million from Abbott, but is seeking to have its royalty rate increased.

• Debiopharm SA, of Lausanne, Switzerland, signed a license agreement with the Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica in China for the development of ZT-1, a cholinesterase inhibitor for Alzheimer's disease. The institute will supply Debiopharm with predefined amounts of huperzine A, of which ZT-1 is a derivative, with a dual mechanism of action to potentially offer neuroprotective properties on top of its cholinergic effects. Debiopharm has the exclusive license to develop and commercialize ZT-1 worldwide except in China, where the institute retains such rights. Debiopharm, which has conducted about 60 preclinical studies and seven Phase I/II studies on ZT-1, is seeking co-development and commercial partnerships with pharmaceutical companies.

• Evotec OAI AG, of Hamburg, Germany, and F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd., of Basel, Switzerland, entered a worldwide discovery chemistry agreement. The companies have had three chemistry alliances since 2001, when Evotec began supporting four Roche sites in the design and synthesis of chemical compounds. The relationship was broadened last year to a medicinal chemistry agreement. Separately, Evotec entered a drug discovery agreement with Guilford Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Baltimore, to identify small-molecule compounds that interact with selected Guilford targets. Evotec will develop assays and screen them in ultra-high-throughput format against multiple Guilford targets. Evotec will receive research fees and could receive milestone payments on the successful preclinical development of the compounds and their approval for clinical development.

• Gamida-Cell Ltd., of Jerusalem, was approved for a $1.3 million grant by the Office of the Chief Scientist, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor. The grant is part of an overall approved budget of $3 million by the office for Gamida's StemEx research and is earmarked for both in-house and subcontractor activity. Gamida-Cell will receive the funding during the course of 2004. The grant is in addition to an overall $5 million grant that Gamida-Cell is to receive during the next three years to support its participation in the Israel Stem Cell Consortium.

• Hybrigenics SA, of Paris, signed an agreement with the Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica for identifying and screening cancer drugs derived from plant extracts used in traditional Chinese medicine. Hybrigenics will supply targets and a screening assay. The institute will give the company access to its library of plant extracts based in the Chinese National Center for Drug Screening. The organizations will jointly undertake sample screening, hit finding, and lead identification and optimization, as well as related preclinical studies. The collaboration will bring together the institute's experience in natural product chemistry and pharmacology and Hybrigenics' technology platform based on high-throughput protein-interaction mapping, cell-function analysis and small-molecule screening.

• IDEA AG, of Munich, Germany, reported the positive outcome of a study testing the efficacy and safety of IDEA-070, for the treatment of painful inflammatory skin reactions induced by different challenges, such as sunburn. The trial was designed to compare the effects of IDEA-070 with placebo on UVB-induced skin inflammation in 37 healthy volunteers. The measure of the study was the threshold-to-heat-induced local pain following specified UVB irradiation. Objectives included a comparison with an equal volume of a commercial product containing hydrocortisone-21-acetate, the testing of two lower doses of IDEA-070 and an evaluation of different application regimens.

• Ingenium Pharmaceuticals AG, of Munich, Germany, acquired from Incyte Corp., of Wilmington, Del., U.S. patents to develop and provide for partners genetic rat and mouse models, including knockouts and hyper- and hypomorphic models. Ingenium previously licensed the patents for the models that were developed using its Ingenotyping technology, a method of producing rodent models with subtle gene alterations. The technology is based on a chemical process that generates point mutations in genes and Ingenium's expertise in producing and analyzing mammalian models of disease.

• LG Life Sciences Ltd., of Seoul, South Korea, and Anadys Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, completed a Phase I/IIa trial of ANA380. Data showed oral administration over 28 days was well tolerated and reduced HBV viral load by up to 4.0 log(10) units, or nearly 100 percent, in the chronic hepatitis B virus-infected patients. ANA380 is a nucleotide analogue in Phase II trials to treat chronic HBV infection.

• Lonza Ltd., of Basel, Switzerland, and AplaGen GmbH, of Baesweiler, Germany, closed a combined cooperation and licensing agreement for AplaGen's Correctly Folded Peptide Synthesis technology, a new method for the synthesis of longer mer peptides and proteins. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• Nuevolution A/S, of Copenhagen, Denmark, acquired rights to a portfolio of patents relating to a process of molecular evolution that allows DNA to act as a vehicle to generate potential drug-like molecules. The patents, originating from the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, relate to the generation and screening of bifunctional molecules. Nuevolution uses its Chemetics technology to generate small-molecule drug leads.

• Shantha Biotechnics Pvt. Ltd., of Hyderabad, India, and Spectrum Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Irvine, Calif., entered a marketing and distribution alliance in which Spectrum will be responsible for all U.S. regulatory, marketing and distribution matters for certain products marketed by Shantha elsewhere and others under development. The product candidates include certain oncology biologics, cancer diagnostics, as well as certain vaccines. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• Solvay Pharmaceuticals BV, of Brussels, Belgium, and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., of New York, entered a worldwide agreement for the Solvay compound SLV319, which is in Phase I development with potential for use in treating obesity and other metabolic disorders. The parties will jointly develop and commercialize SLV319 on a global basis. The agreement involves the payment of a $10 million signing fee by BMS. Further milestone payments are based on the successful outcome of certain development and regulatory stages. SLV319 belongs to a class of agents called CB1 antagonists, which work by blocking the canabinoid type 1 receptor.

• Tecan Group Ltd., of Mannedorf, Switzerland, entered an agreement to develop and co-market high-throughput screening products with fluorescence lifetime technology with Pierce Biotechnology Inc., of Rockford, Ill. Tecan will apply its Ultra Evolution Detection Platform for high-throughput fluorescence lifetime measurements, while Pierce will lend its high-throughput screening assay technologies. Financial terms were not disclosed. The partners will co-promote each other's technologies in sales and marketing literature.

• TopoTarget A/S, of Copenhagen, Denmark, said it is to collaborate with the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., to develop a series of inhibitors of histone deacetylase (HDAC) under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement. The research will center on finding the most appropriate chemotherapeutics to use in combination with TopoTarget's HDAC inhibitor PXD101, which is in Phase I trials.

• The UK government said it will introduce legislation to control violent animal rights activists, but rejected calls by the UK BioIndustry Association for a single piece of legislation on the grounds it would take time to implement. Instead, there will be additions to existing laws. BIA said it would wait to see details of the government's proposals before commenting, but remains convinced that a single piece of legislation is needed.

• XCELLentis, a subsidiary of Innogenetics, of Ghent, Belgium, said final results of a Phase II trial of LyphoDerm to treat hard-to-heal venous leg ulcers confirmed top-line results announced in March providing new evidence of its effectiveness. The trial, involving 193 patients, began in September 2002. The primary endpoint was the incidence of complete wound closure within 24 weeks. In LyphoDerm-treated patients, 38 percent achieved 100 percent wound closure, while 27 percent in the control group did the same. LyphoDerm is a human keratinocyte lysate in a topical formulation.

• Zentaris GmbH, of Frankfurt, Germany, and its parent company AEterna Laboratories Inc., of Quebec City, reported Phase II data at an investor and analyst meeting in New York showing cetrorelix use was associated with a statistically significant improvement of pain score in two groups of 25 endometriosis patients who received placebo or a depot formulation of cetrorelix by two intramuscular injections, with a one-month interval (p<0.001). Data from two trials including 250 benign prostatic hyperplasia patients showed dose-dependent improvement in clinical symptoms, including International Prostate Symptom Score and maximum uroflow in the cetrorelix-treated group compared to placebo. Findings on another compound, from an in vivo study of perifosine, showed a combination with radiation led to complete tumor regression.