• 4SC AG, of Martinsried, Germany, and Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH, of Ingelheim, Germany, signed a research agreement to identify ligands as the basis for drug discovery against three undisclosed targets. 4SC will use its virtual high-throughput screening technology, 4Scan, to screen a pool of about 3.3 million small organic molecules. 4SC will then provide the most potent compounds to Boehringer Ingelheim for progressing them through biological screening experiments. In return, 4SC will receive undisclosed up-front and research payments.

• Cerylid Biosciences Ltd., of Melbourne, Australia, was awarded a $2.2 million R&D Start grant to support CBL316, its cancer product that's in clinical development. The company has mapped out a three-year, $4.4 million development program that includes Phase I testing. The grant program supports Australian businesses in developing high-risk/high-return projects, Cerylid said.

• Corixa Corp., of Seattle, said the European Commission granted orphan medicinal product designation to Bexxar for the treatment of follicular lymphoma. The product is under review by the FDA, following a positive recommendation by the Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee in December. The product is being developed in Europe in partnership with Amersham plc, of London. (See BioWorld Today, Dec. 18, 2002.)

• Galileo Genomics Inc., of Montreal, closed two financings totaling C$7.7 million (US$5.2 million). The private placement was funded by venture capital investors, namely HBM Bioventures, of Zurich; Investissement Desjardins, of Montreal; BTF, of Amsterdam, the Netherlands; MVI, of London; and BioFund, of Helsinki, Finland. The company uses genetics technologies to identify disease-relevant genes.

• Gradipore Ltd., of New York, and Serologicals Corp., of Atlanta, entered a development agreement for evaluating the application of Gradipore's Gradiflow separations technology for the isolation of plasma proteins intended for use as diagnostic reagents, culture medium supplements or therapeutic indications. Upon successful completion of the evaluation to the specified requirements of Serologicals, the companies would discuss a more extensive commercial agreement for the purification and commercialization of other plasma proteins.

• Hybridon Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., said preclinical studies of its immunomodulatory oligonucleotides were presented at the American Association for Cancer Research meeting on Mouse Models of Cancer. Hybridon reported that its DNA structures, referred to as immunomers, containing a synthetic CpR motif, induced distinctive immune activation profiles and showed potent antitumor activity in a mouse colon carcinoma model.

• IDEC Pharmaceuticals Corp., of San Diego, filed a lawsuit against Corixa Corp., of Seattle, and GlaxoSmithKline plc, of London, for alleged patent infringement in connection with Corixa's Bexxar and its use in B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphomas. The suit was filed in the Southern District of California. The patent in question was recently issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and covers methods for the use of radiolabeled antibodies in the treatment of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

• Microbia Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., entered a collaboration with Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd., of India, to develop improved, higher-yielding biomanufacturing processes using Microbia's Precision Engineering technology, which targets the physiological control networks in fungi and bacteria to harness their metabolic potential. The objective is to apply the technology to produce pharmaceuticals with high efficiency and purity and to accelerate the process development cycle. Terms were not disclosed.

• Millennium Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., said the agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal Products (EMEA) accepted for review its marketing authorization application for Velcade (bortezomib) for the treatment of relapsed and refractory multiple myeloma. Velcade received fast-track status in the U.S. in June, and Millennium filed a new drug application in January. The MAA was submitted to the EMEA a week later, Millennium said. (See BioWorld Today, Jan. 23, 2002.)

• Monsanto Co., of St. Louis, received a registration from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its YieldGard Rootworm insect-protected corn technology, allowing commercialization of the first biotech corn designed to control the corn rootworm pest for the 2003 planting season. The Department of Agriculture and the FDA completed their reviews of YieldGard Rootworm previously. The corn contains a protein from Bacillus thuringiensis, a common soil microbe that specifically targets corn rootworm larvae, allowing the corn plant to protect against the corn rootworm.

• MorphoSys AG, of Martinsried, Germany, and Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH, of Ingelheim, Germany, entered a therapeutic antibody collaboration and cross-license agreement. MorphoSys receives an exclusive worldwide license to patents owned or controlled by Boehringer Ingelheim to develop, make and sell therapeutic and diagnostic antibodies targeting the ICAM-1 molecule. Boehringer Ingelheim will receive exclusive commercial licenses to antibodies against two undisclosed targets, which MorphoSys will generate using its HuCAL Gold antibody technology. For the sale of therapeutic antibodies and diagnostic antibodies against ICAM-1, MorphoSys will make milestone and royalty payments to Boehringer Ingelheim. Boehringer Ingelheim will make milestone and royalty payments to MorphoSys for the development and sale of HuCAL antibodies delivered by MorphoSys. Financial details were not disclosed.

The National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., and its division, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, awarded contracts totaling $20 million to develop safer smallpox vaccines. Acambis plc, of Cambridge, UK, said its U.S. subsidiary, Acambis Inc., was awarded $9.2 million to develop a new modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA) vaccine. Bavarian Nordic A/S, of Copenhagen, Denmark, said it was awarded a three-year contract to develop its MVA-BN safe smallpox vaccine.