• Acambis plc, of Cambridge, UK, reported a change in the ratio of its American depository receipts, which are traded on Nasdaq. Since listing on Nasdaq in February 2001, Acambis' ADR price has risen from about $18 to around $60. In order to bring the price in line with other ADRs, the company will change the ratio from one ADR for 10 ordinary shares to one ADR for two ordinary shares. Acambis ADR holders on record as of Feb. 20 will be issued four additional ADRs for every ADR held. There is no change to Acambis' ordinary shares; its primary listing will continue to trade on the London Stock Exchange. Acambis is a developer of vaccines to prevent and treat infectious diseases.

• Aeras Global TB Vaccine Foundation, of Rockville, Md., received an $82.9 million grant from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle to support development of new vaccines to prevent tuberculosis, a disease that kills nearly two million people each year. The grant, which the organization said is the largest ever for vaccine development, will allow Aeras to fund human trials of promising TB vaccines and early research on the next generation of vaccines.

• Applied Molecular Evolution Inc., of San Diego, is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Eli Lilly and Co., of Indianapolis, which said it has completed the acquisition. The acquisition was initially reported on Nov. 21 and was approved by AME stockholders at a special meeting last week. (See BioWorld Today, Nov. 25, 2003.)

• Elan Corp. plc, of Dublin, Ireland, completed the sale of its European sales and marketing business to Medeus Pharma Ltd., a new UK pharmaceutical company backed by Apax Partners Fund. Elan has realized total consideration of about $120 million from the transaction, previously reported on Dec. 23. About 180 employees of Elan's European sales and marketing business will transfer their employment to Medeus. Separately, Elan said it expects to complete the sale of certain rights to two products in the UK and Ireland for about $10 million during the first quarter of 2004.

• GeneOhm Sciences Inc., of San Diego, signed a worldwide co-exclusive license agreement with University of Rochester in New York to use the school's nucleic acid synthesis and amplification technology. GeneOhm intends to incorporate it into its development of molecular diagnostic assays for identification of gene sequences unique to particular diseases. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• GPC Biotech AG, of Martinsried, Germany, said it achieved a milestone in its osteoarthritis alliance with Aventis SA, of Strasbourg, France. Aventis selected a validated target, which will be moved into high-throughput screening by Aventis to identify compounds for the treatment of osteoarthritis. GPC identified the target, as well as a number of other potential targets, using its technologies. The milestone triggers an undisclosed payment to GPC. The alliance with Aventis was initiated in 1999.

• Harvard Group Inc., of White Rock, British Columbia, said it signed a letter of intent to acquire the assets of NexTherapeutics Inc., of Cambridge, Mass. NexTherapeutics' lead product, NXT 211, is a radiolabeled antibody that has demonstrated clinical proof of concept in more than 150 patients for the treatment of refractory Hodgkin's disease. NexTherapeutics' pipeline also includes multiple CD44-modulating antibodies. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• Indevus Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Lexington, Mass., said it received FDA notice of a 90-day extension to the original Feb. 27 Prescription Drug User Fee Act action date related to its new drug application for trospium for overactive bladder. The delay stems from the company's recent submission of results from a second QT study that showed that trospium has no significant effect on the QT interval, a side effect associated with muscarinic receptor antagonists. Indevus expects the agency to act on May 28.

• Senesco Technologies Inc., of New Brunswick, N.J., completed an additional sale of about 485,000 units at $2.37 per unit, comprised of one share of newly issued common stock and a warrant to purchase half a share of common stock at an exercise price of $3.79 per share to an institutional investor. Aggregate proceeds to the company were about $1.2 million. In connection with the sale, the company issued an additional warrant to purchase 15 percent of a share of common stock for each share of common stock previously purchased by the investors in the private placement. Pursuant to the terms of the private placement, such investors had received a warrant to purchase 35 percent of a share of common stock for each share of common stock.

• SuperGen Inc., of Dublin, Calif., released a preplanned interim analysis of a Phase III study of Dacogen (decitabine for injection) in patients with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), showing that those receiving Dacogen had an increased time to acute myelogenous leukemia or death (median 105 days vs. 92 days, p=0.036), the study's primary endpoint. Data from 92 patients have been collected to date, allowing for a final analysis, though the company said it would not begin until all primary data points are verified. SuperGen expects final results to be available before the end of March.

• The La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology in San Diego said its researchers published findings in Science showing that p53 can activate apoptosis when the tumor-suppressor protein is present in the cytoplasm of a tumor cell. More specifically, when active p53 is present in the cytoplasm of the tumor cell it activates Bax, a Bcl-2 related protein that promotes cell death. The p53-activated Bax then punctures the cell's mitochondria, causing the cell to die.

• The Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research in San Antonio said its researchers published findings in this month's Journal of Virology showing that potential vaccine against one hepatitis C virus strain could produce protective immunity to multiple strains. More specifically, chimpanzees that had cleared previous infection with genotype 1 later showed protective immunity when re-challenged with several different strains. That was true even when the animals were challenged with a mixture containing strains from genotypes 1, 2, 3 and 4, the four major genotypes affecting most hepatitis C victims. Previous thinking concluded that prior infection with hepatitis C only produced immunity to the specific strain with which one had been infected. The findings were produced in collaboration with the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.

• Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., completed the exchange of about $153 million of its 5 percent convertible subordinated notes due 2007 for the same amount of newly issued 5.75 percent convertible senior subordinated notes due 2011. Issued through a private offering to qualified institutional buyers, they are convertible into Vertex common stock at $14.94 per share.

• ViroLogic Inc., of South San Francisco, said that data presented at a major medical conference indicated that the company's portfolio of HIV drug-resistance assays, in addition to helping improve treatment of HIV, also can be used in the discovery of drug targets and the development of new drugs and vaccines. Among the highlights was a study that demonstrated the value of ViroLogic's Replication Capacity (RC) assay as a tool to predict HIV disease progression in untreated patients. The study identified an RC threshold below which HIV-1 has reduced virulence and was less able to deplete the immune system.

• Weill Cornell Medical College, of New York, said its researchers discovered that injecting a growth factor called PDGF-AB along with bone marrow cells into the heart can cause new heart cells to grow in scar tissue. The research, conducted in an animal model, was published in the "Online First" section of Circulation Research. The growth factor dramatically boosted the number of heart cells, known as cardiac myocytes, in rats with heart damage similar to that seen in human heart attack patients.