• Akzo Nobel NV, of Arnhem, the Netherlands, named Jo Lennartz president and CEO of Diosynth Biotechnology, its subsidiary in Research Triangle Park, N.C. Lennartz, who took the reins after serving as the president and general manager of another Akzo unit, replaced Bob Salsmans, who retired after 30 years with the company.

• Atugen AG, of Berlin, appointed André Lochter director of business development. Previously he worked for Nordic Bioscience A/S, of Herlev, Denmark, where he was business development manager of in vitro diagnostics. Atugen specializes in disease pathway elucidation, with a portfolio of validated targets and inhibitor compounds in the PI 3-kinase pathway, which is implicated in cancer, diabetes and other indications.

• Axaron Bioscience AG, of Heidelberg, Germany, named Friedrich Christ chairman. A senior vice president of BASF AG, he succeeds Klaus Jürgen Böhm, whose term expired. Axaron uses functional genomics and proteomics technology platforms to develop therapies for neurodegenerative diseases.

• Cambridge Antibody Technology Group plc, of Cambridge, UK, received the first payment of royalties on sales of Humira from Abbott Laboratories, of Abbott Park, Ill. The payment represents Abbott's calculation of the royalties due to CAT on sales in the six-month period ended June 30. However, CAT disputes the level of the royalties related to the applicability of certain royalty offset provisions in the April 1995 license agreement between CAT and Knoll Aktiengesellschaft, which was subsequently acquired by Abbott. Abbott has sought to offset royalties payable to other licensers against the payment to CAT and has paid royalties at the minimum level described in the license agreement, though CAT believes Abbott's interpretation of the agreement is incorrect, it said. The companies have begun a formal resolution procedure.

• Crucell NV, of Leiden, the Netherlands, and Gene Medicine Japan Inc., of Kobe, Japan, entered a license agreement for Crucell's PER.C6 production technology. Gene Medicine will use the technology to provide manufacturing services for companies, universities and other institutions researching adenovirus-based recombinant vaccines and gene medicine products in Japan and the rest of Asia. Crucell will receive up-front and annual payments, as well as double-digit royalties on contract manufacturing sales.

• Debiopharm SA, of Lausanne, Switzerland, reported that it would start a Phase II trial this year, for dose-finding and efficacy assessment of a once-daily oral formulation of ZT-1, a cholinesterase inhibitor being developed at Debiopharm for Alzheimer's disease (AD). The multicenter trial is expected to enroll 180 patients suffering from mild to moderate AD. ZT-1's dual pharmacological mechanism of action offers the potential to slow deterioration, while improving cognitive function. ZT-1 also has neuroprotective properties, one of them being mediated possibly by the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor.

• DeCode Genetics Inc., of Reykjavik, Iceland, and Roche Diagnostics, of Basel, Switzerland, discovered forms of a gene that confer about twice the average risk of myocardial infarction. The companies plan to use the information to develop a DNA-based test to identify individuals who are at elevated risk. DeCode received a milestone payment from Roche for the discovery. The two companies formed a $300 million agreement for DNA-based diagnostics in 2001.

• Evotec OAI AG, of Hamburg, Germany, and Biofrontera Pharmaceuticals Holding AG, of Leverkusen, Germany, entered a co-marketing and distribution agreement to offer natural compounds for drug discovery services. Biofrontera uses a collection of microorganisms and several million natural compounds derived from them, which Evotec will incorporate into its high-throughput screening services augmenting its screening library of small molecules. Biofrontera agreed not to enter similar agreements with other screening service providers, but remains free to collaborate with customers and partners in drug discovery and development. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• Flamel Technologies SA, of Lyon, France, said the waiting period expired related to its previously reported agreement with Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., of New York, to develop and market Basulin, a controlled-release, unmodified human insulin to be developed as a once-daily injection for patients with Type I or Type II diabetes. The clearance eliminates the remaining condition to the agreement and will result in a $20 million up-front payment from BMS to Flamel within 15 days. (See BioWorld International, Sept. 3, 2003.)

• Galapagos Genomics, of Mechelen, Belgium, published its adenoviral siRNA-based gene silencing technology in Genome Research, demonstrating efficient knockdown of specific gene expression in a variety of cell types, including human primary cells. Based on the approach, Galapagos has built a collection of adenoviruses, with knockdown sequences, called SilenceSelect, targeting more than 4,000 human druggable genes. The company is applying the collection to internal discovery programs that are focused on bone disorders and Alzheimer's disease.

• Gamida-Cell Ltd., of Jerusalem, plans to begin in 2004 a Phase I/II trial of its product to treat cardiac disease. The company will present preclinical results on Dec. 7 at the annual conference of the American Society for Hematology in California. Results showed that a cord blood stem cell population expanded by Gamida-Cell technology shows promise in treating heart disease. Cell therapy with ex vivo expanded cord blood-derived cells resulted in new vessel formation and might be used to prevent heart dilation, dysfunction and heart attacks.

• Innate Pharma SAS, of Marseille, France, appointed Aziz Benzohra director of clinical development. Benzohra had previously been head of the oncology and gynecology group of Pharmacia SAS. The company is planning to move a second cancer drug into Phase I development.

• Intec Pharmaceuticals Ltd., of Jerusalem, Israel, completed a NIS2.5 million (US$600,000) financing round from private investors. Intec, which is developing a controlled-release, gastroretentive platform for drug delivery, plans to use the money to expand its production capacity. The technology will allow oral drugs to be taken at lower doses and longer intervals by extending the absorption in the stomach and duodenum for up to eight hours.

• IP2IPO Ltd., of Cambridge, UK, rose from the placing price of £2.75 to £3.30 when trading began on London's Alternative Investment Market Oct. 15. The company has equity in a dozen biotech start-up companies, and its strong debut is seen as evidence of renewed investor interest in the sector. The stock ended the week at £3.29, giving IP2IPO a market capitalization of £133.7 million (US$223.9 million).

• IsoTis SA, of Lausanne, Switzerland, said it is one step closer to closing its merger with GenSci Regeneration Sciences Inc., of Toronto, after the latter emerged from bankruptcy protection. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court has confirmed GenSci's Chapter 11 plan of reorganization. As a result, IsoTis said the merger has been sealed, with its effective date scheduled for Oct. 27. (See BioWorld Today, June 4, 2003.)

• Meridica Ltd., of Cambridge, UK, entered an agreement with Pfizer Inc., of New York, which licensed Meridica's dry-powder inhaler, Xcelovair, to support the development and commercialization of its inhaled compounds for respiratory diseases. Pfizer will make an undisclosed up-front payment, followed by further milestone and royalty payments, to Meridica. Pfizer also is taking an equity stake in Meridica.

• Morphochem AG, of Munich, Germany, added Max Link as chairman, replacing Helmit Schuehsler, who will remain on the board as vice chairman. Link was previously CEO and chairman of Sandoz Pharma AG and held board positions with Cell Therapeutics Inc. and Human Genome Sciences Inc. The company also appointed Thomas Hecht to its board, with responsibility for its oncology programs. Morphochem, which was founded in 1996, is a small-molecule discovery and development company.

• NeuTec Pharma plc, of Manchester, UK, said 20 hospitals in six European countries have agreed to take part in Phase III trials of Aurograb for the treatment of the hospital-acquired infection methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). That follows the completion of two Phase II studies showing the product was safe and has activity against strains of MRSA, including strains that are showing partial resistance to the antibiotic vancomycin. Combined treatment with Aurograb and vancomycin was more effective than either drug on its own. NeuTec's products are derived from antibodies taken from patients who recover from severe infection, and the company also announced that is has taken antibodies against the severe acute respiratory syndrome into preclinical development.

• Nonlinear Dynamics Ltd., of Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK, and Genomic Solutions Inc., of Ann Arbor, Mich., signed an equipment manufacturing distribution agreement in which Nonlinear will supply products to analyze 2D electrophoresis gels to Genomics Solutions that will be exclusively distributed under the Investigator HT Analyzer brand. Genomic Solutions, a subsidiary of Harvard Bioscience Inc., will distribute Nonlinear's 1D electrophoresis gel analysis product under the same trade name. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• Oxxon Pharmaccines Ltd., of Oxford, UK, reported it moved to new premises at the Oxford Science Park. The facilities include more than 7,600 square feet to expand the company's laboratory and commercial space. The facilities contain 60 percent laboratory space, with 40 percent for offices and general facilities. Oxxon is focusing on the development of immunotherapeutics for chronic infectious disease and cancer.

• Prima Biomed Ltd., of Melbourne, Australia, said its Arthron Pty. Ltd. subsidiary showed that a receptor it is targeting is responsible for the release of inflammatory chemicals responsible for rheumatoid arthritis. Arthron demonstrated that activation of its target, the Fc receptor on white blood cells, is a major release source of tumor necrosis factor alpha.

• Primagen Holding BV, of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, entered an exclusive distribution and licensing agreement with Delphic Europe Diagnostics Ltd., of London, to promote the former's Retina Mitox mitochondrial toxicity assay in the UK and Ireland. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• Revotar Biopharmaceuticals AG, of Brandenburg, Germany, reported the results of an investigative study that were first presented at the European Respiratory Society meeting in Vienna, Austria, on Sept. 30. In the pilot study, whole blood from normal allergic asthmatics or subjects with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder was analyzed by flow cytometry for the expression of P-selectin glycoprotein ligand-1 on leukocytes. Revotar's selectin antagonist has demonstrated in multiple preclinical studies, supported by clinical proof-of-concept studies, to inhibit the interaction of leukocytes with the vessel adhesion molecules.

• SkyePharma plc, of London, said it welcomed the report by its partner, GlaxoSmithKline plc, of London, that the FDA approved an additional therapeutic indication for Paxil CR for the treatment of social anxiety disorder. Paxil is approved and on the market in the U.S. for the treatment of depression, panic disorder and, most recently, premenstrual dysphoric disorder. SkyePharma developed the controlled-release formulation used in Paxil CR and receives royalties on GSK's sales.

• Speedel Group, of Basel, Switzerland, said its research arm, Speedel Experimenta AG, reached a preclinical milestone with its new series of renin inhibitors (SPP600), which are in development for hypertension and renal disease. In transgenic rat models expressing the human genes for renin and angiotensin, its lead compounds exhibited oral activity, blood pressure-lowering effects and renal protection. The chemical series was competitive in the experiments with the angiotensin receptor blocker valsartan, which is used in the treatment of hypertension and renal disease. The company aims to select a drug candidate for clinical trials next year, it said.

• Switch Biotech AG, of Neuried, Germany, appointed Stefan Schulze CEO. Schulze was previously Switch's chief financial officer and chairman. Schulze has been with Switch since March 1999, when he left management consultant McKinsey & Co. Switch specializes in dermatological research and development, with compounds for psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, vitiligo and cutaneous ulcers.

• TopoTarget Prolifix A/S, of Copenhagen, Denmark, initiated a Phase I study of PXD101, its histone deacetylase inhibitor, in patients with advanced cancers. The trial will evaluate intravenous administration of PXD101 in 24 to 36 patients. In addition to standard clinical evaluations of safety and efficacy, clinicians will monitor pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamic responses.

• Transgene SA, of Strasbourg, France, entered an agreement with the Antigen Express subsidiary of Generex Biotechnology Corp., of Toronto. The agreement calls for Transgene to insert Antigen Express's Ii suppression gene in Transgene's adenovirus-based cancer immunotherapy products and evaluate the constructs in several animal models. The program is expected to proceed for up to a year, after which time the companies have agreed to review the data for possible further collaboration. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• Trendlines International Ltd. Group, of Tel Aviv, Israel, with offices in Germany and the U.S., set up a $25 million Israeli venture fund. The fund is focused on biomedical investments as well as security and information technology fields. It will look to invest in both early stage and established companies, it said.

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