• AM-Pharma Holding BV, of Bunnik, the Netherlands, announced the start of Phase I trials of its lead product, calf intestinal alkaline phosphatase (AP), for the treatment of sepsis. AM-Pharma discovered AP has an important role in the body's natural defense against bacterial infections, showing it is able to detoxify lipopolysaccharide toxins released by certain bacteria. The company initially will develop AP for the prevention of lipopolysaccharide-mediated infection following major surgery. AM-Pharma has discovered a number of other anti-infectives derived from the innate human immune system.

• Antisense Therapeutics Ltd., of Melbourne Australia, said it will begin in March at Stamford Hospital in London Phase I human trials of a new treatment for multiple sclerosis. The new drug, called ATL 1102, binds to the piece of messenger RNA in immune cells involved in the production of a protein called VLA-4. The protein has been shown to contribute to the progression of MS.

• Bavarian Nordic A/S, of Copenhagen, Denmark, said it would realize "the major part" of its 2003 revenue and profit targets through an agreement to supply its Elstree-BN smallpox vaccine to an undisclosed European government. Bavarian Nordic had previously forecast sales of DKK500 million (US$72 million) and pretax profit of approximately DKK250 million for 2003. Elstree-BN, which is available in a serum-free formulation, is the company's second-generation smallpox vaccine. A third-generation successor, Modified Vaccinia Ankara - Bavarian Nordic (MVA-BN), is in clinical development and is designed to be safe for immune-compromised recipients.

• Chiracon GmbH, of Luckenwalde, Germany, appointed Thilo Schmidt-Rogge to the position of managing director, a rank he shares with Ralf Zuhse, the company's founder. Chiracon produces chiral molecules as the raw material for high-value pharmaceuticals. Schmidt-Rogge had previously been a senior investment manager with the Berlin Capital Fund.

• Domantis Ltd., of Cambridge, UK, said it has been granted a U.S. patent on its emulsion technology for generating antibodies without using bacteria or cells. A water-in-oil emulsion is used to compartmentalize genes and their products into an entity that behaves like an artificial cell. The company says this paves the way for the "ideal scenario" in which a chosen antibody target is put in one end of a machine and a binding antibody emerges at the other.

• Evotec OAI AG, of Hamburg, Germany began a three-year discovery and development partnership with Dynogen Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Abingdon, UK. Dynogen will use Evotec's technology to identify and develop neurological compounds for the treatment of genitourinary and gastrointestinal disorders. Dynogen will take compounds that are in use for pain, depression, anxiety and similar indications and develop them for GU and GI problems. Evotec will provide services including assay and library development, biological screening and lead optimization. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Evotec also started a three-year partnership with Psychiatric Genomics Inc., of Gaithersburg, Md., to seek small-molecule drugs to treat psychiatric diseases. This partnership is the third agreement that has come from Evotec's alliance with the venture firm Oxford Bioscience Partners to support its portfolio companies with Evotec knowledge and services.

• Gene Bridges GmbH, of Dresden, Germany, is the beneficiary of an additional U.S. patent on its Red/ET recombination process for DNA manipulation, cloning and modification. The patent itself was issued to the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, and Gene Bridges holds exclusive rights to the technology.

• Genmab A/S, of Copenhagen, Denmark, said its preclinical human antibody, HuMax-CD20, is undergoing manufacturing development in advance of human clinical trials. The company last week reported preclinical data at the Keystone Symposium "Antibody-Based Therapeutics for Cancer" in Banff, Alberta. HuMax-CD20 was able to kill tumor cells from several patients with B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (B-CLL) who were resistant to rituximab, an antibody that acts on the same target. The company said HuMax-CD20 killed up to 50 percent of B-CLL tumors in whole blood experiments, whereas the equivalent figure for rituximab was no more than 5 percent. It also demonstrated superior action in killing tumor cells obtained from a single patient with B-cell acute lymphocytic leukemia. Another preclinical anticancer antibody, HuMax-EGFr, also is in manufacturing development, following preclinical data indicating it slows tumor growth and development via a variety of mechanisms.

• Genovac AG, of Freiburg, Germany, reached proof of principle for its genetic immunization technology by meeting goals of a test designed by CuraGen Corp., of New Haven, Conn. Genovac's technology was able to generate polyclonal antibodies against nine of 10 targets chosen by CuraGen. The German company delivered the antibodies 10 weeks after assignment. The test has led to a nonexclusive five-year alliance between the companies to seek monoclonal antibodies for research and therapeutic uses. Genovac was founded in 1999 and identifies antibodies against native proteins without isolating the protein.

• GPC Biotech AG, of Martinsried, Germany, licensed patents from Ariad Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., that extend the intellectual property position of GPC's "Reverse Genomics" technology platform. The patents cover cell-signaling regulation technology that GPC expects to be helpful in reducing bottlenecks at later stages in drug discovery. Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed. GPC also introduced LeadCode, a new element of its platform that aims to identify and analyze a candidate compound's interactions with human proteins. The company said the new element is sensitive enough to measure the weak interactions that are often the source of toxicity or side effects. GPC will use LeadCode in its own drug discovery and license it to other biopharmaceutical companies.

• Medivir AB, of Huddinge, Sweden, said its oral antiviral molecule MIV-210, which is in development for the treatment of HIV and hepatitis B, entered a Phase I trial in healthy volunteers. The multiple-dose study, which is being conducted in the UK, is expected to be completed in the second half of this year, the company said. MIV-210, which is a polymerase inhibitor, has been shown to be active against drug-resistant HIV-1 and hepatitis B in both in vivo and in vitro experiments. Medivir also has reported a synergistic in vitro effect against HIV between MIV-310, which is in Phase II studies, and MIV-210.

• MelTec GmbH, of Magdeburg, Germany, has begun a feasibility study in rheumatoid arthritis with the Proteome Center Rostock in Germany to examine tissue from inflamed human joints using MelTec's MELK technology. If the first phase of the study shows positive results, they will extend the collaboration by using topological proteomics techniques to seek biomarkers and targets for rheumatoid arthritis. The Rostock center has a strong program in the proteomics and genomics of rheumatoid arthritis. MelTec will contribute technology that enables examination of protein networks in situ. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. The Rostock center is part of the Proteome Alliance, a research network of more than 20 industrial and academic groups engaged in proteome science, which is supported in part by the German Ministry for Education and Research.

• Migragen AG, of Tubingen, Germany, acquired an exclusive license from Yale University for a joint patent on nerve regeneration. The license covers worldwide rights for development and commercialization of novel therapeutics. The patent covers inhibitors of Rho, an enzyme that is a key regulator of nerve fiber growth and regeneration. Migragen has one inhibitor already in preclinical development for the treatment of spinal cord injury. Financial details were not disclosed.

• NeuTec Pharma plc, of Manchester, UK, said it has filed an IND for Mycograb in the treatment of hospital-acquired invasive candidiasis. That follows the completion in January of the interim analysis of 21 patients in the European Phase IIa trial of the compound, which has orphan drug status in the U.S. and Europe. The Phase IIb European study has begun.

• NicOx SA, of Sophia-Antipolis, France, plans to embark on Phase I studies of NCX 1000, a nitric oxide-donating derivative of ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA), in both the U.S. and Europe for the treatment of portal hypertension, a late-stage chronic liver disease. NCX 1000 is being developed under a co-development and license agreement with Axcan Pharma Inc., of Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Quebec. The approval of the IND triggered a payment of $2 million from Axcan to NicOx. The agreement provides for NicOx to receive license fees and option and milestone payments of up to $19 million. This is the seventh IND NicOx has had approved in the U.S.

• PPL Therapeutics plc, of Edinburgh, UK, said it has entered exclusive negotiations with U.S.-based investors to dispose of PPL's xenograft and stem cell programs, which it put on the market in March 2002. PPL expects to receive a minority equity stake in the new venture in return for the programs, which are using cloning technology to produce pigs with organs and tissue suitable for transplant to humans. In March 2002 that resulted in the birth of the first cloned pigs, and in August 2002 of double-knockout pigs.

• Switch Biotech AG, of Munich, Germany, has validated a target from LEO Pharma A/S, of Ballerup, Denmark, that plays a role in controlling psoriasis. Switch earned an undisclosed milestone payment from LEO for the work. The companies will continue to collaborate in a search for active compounds that reduce the effects of the target, with the goal of finding treatments for psoriasis. The partnership began in June 2001 and is aimed at identifying targets for both psoriasis and atopic dermatitis. Switch was founded in 1997 as a spin-off from the gene center at the University of Munich.

The German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) awarded the BioFuture prize to the leaders of five promising research groups in biological sciences. Each group will receive an average of €1 million in public funding. The winners were Elly Tanaka, of the Max Planck Institute for Cellular Biology and Genetics in Dresden, for work on tissue regeneration; Reinhard Koester, of the GSF Research Center in Neuherberg, for work on neuron regeneration; Rolf Mueller, of the Society for Biotechnological Research in Braunschweig, for work on the synthesis of compounds from mycobacteria; Marcus Faendrich, of the Institute for Molecular Biotechnology in Jena, for work on the structure of amyloid fibrils associated with illness; and Frank Ohl, of the Institute for Neurobiology in Magdeburg, for work on interactive neuroprosthetics for the audiotory cortex. The BioFuture prize has been awarded to 43 researchers to date, with total financial support from the BMBF amounting to €55 million.