• Cyclacel Ltd. CEO Spiro Rombotis was selected as one of 30 Technology Pioneers for 2003 by the World Economic Forum based in Geneva. Technology Pioneers are singled out as CEOs of companies that are developing innovative and transformational technologies, in line with the forum's attempt to provide a new perspective on technological change and how it can be used to stimulate medical breakthroughs and drive economic growth. Cyclacel, of Dundee, UK, specializes in the discovery and development of small-molecule inhibitors of the cell cycle for the treatment of cancer.

• Cytos Biotechnology AG, of Zurich, Switzerland, said it entered a research collaboration with Medarex Inc., of Princeton, N.J., focused on the development of new drug targets in the field of immunology. Medarex will gain exclusive rights to develop and commercialize therapeutic monoclonal antibodies against the targets identified with Cytos' DELphi target identification and validation platform. It will also have an option to negotiate the use of the same targets for small drug discovery and for the development of protein therapeutics. Cytos will receive pre-commercial payments and milestones, as well as royalties on eventual product sales.

• France is not set to start importing embryonic stem cells in the near future, since the decree authorizing them, which was issued by the previous minister of research shortly before his government left office in May, has been suspended before coming into effect. The decision to suspend its execution was taken by the Council of State, the final authority on administrative law in France, after an appeal was lodged against it by the French pressure group Human Rights Alliance. The decree will remain on hold at least until that appeal is heard in four months, when a court will have to decide on the legality of the measure under existing legislation. Before then, however, the government is due to unveil a new bioethics bill that, among other things, will establish new frontiers for biomedical research in France. The bill is to be introduced into Parliament in January, but it will be many months before it reaches the statute book.

• KS Biomedix Holdings plc, of Guildford, UK, entered an R&D agreement with the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., to investigate the use of Bcl-2 proteins involved in programmed cell death in cancer treatments. By delivering recombinant versions of these proteins to cancer cells, the partners believe it may be possible to induce apoptosis in cancer cells. The agreement is an extension of previous work carried out at NINDS that resulted in the development of KSB's TransMID product, which is in Phase III trials for the treatment of brain cancer.

• Oxford GlycoSciences plc, of Abingdon, UK, said it started a Phase I trial of OGT 923 for glycolipid storage disorders. The compound is an analogue of Zavesca, which earlier this year was approved in Europe after being turned down by the FDA. Gauging tolerability is one goal of the double-blind trial in healthy volunteers.

• PanBio Ltd., in Brisbane, Australia, intends to develop a range of fast diagnostic tests using a new approach in checking for the DNA of infectious organisms developed by local researchers. PanBio CEO Mel Bridges said the technology developed at the Cooperative Research Centre for Diagnostics based at the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane was much faster than the existing tests, which check for DNA of disease pathogens, rather than for the antibodies induced by the pathogens. Also the CRCD technology, known as Enzyme Linked Amplification and Hybridization Assay, did not require the expensive equipment of existing tests, he said. The deal between CRCD and PanBio is for royalties of 3 percent to 5 percent on sales. The company intends to initially develop tests for herpes types 1 and 2.

• PowderJect Pharmaceuticals plc, of Oxford, UK, said it is planning to move five DNA vaccines into clinical trials in 2003. The vaccines, to be administered by powder injection, are against the flu, herpes simplex virus, HIV, Hanta virus (as part of the company's collaboration with the U.S. military), and a cancer vaccine based on an antigen expressed by a range of tumors. The company said the DNA flu vaccine offers the potential of improved efficacy and protection against different mutations of the influenza virus. The HIV DNA vaccine, which is being developed in collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline plc, has shown the ability to suppress long-term viral load in a number of preclinical models. In addition, PowderJect said it will move the powder formulation of its Fluvirin flu vaccine into Phase II studies in the first half of 2003. This follows the successful completion of Phase I in 36 volunteers, which demonstrated a robust immune response, at least as strong as that achieved by current vaccines.

• ReGen Therapeutics plc, of London, reported results from an independent study of its lead product, Colostrinin, in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, showing it induced slight but statistically significant improvement or stabilization of 33 patients in the trial. The study was performed between 1995 and 1998 by the Polish scientists who discovered Colostrinin, which is derived from ovine colostrum. ReGen Chairman Percy Lomax said, "We are very pleased to hear that some patients are reported to have continued to benefit from Colostrinin for over two years, which compares extremely favorably with the period over which existing registered drug treatments for Alzheimer's disease are said to be most effective."

• Serono SA, of Geneva, and Amgen Inc., of Thousand Oaks, Calif., signed a license and commercialization agreement providing for Serono to sell the drug Novantrone in the United States. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Novantrone, a concentrated injection formulation of the DNA-reactive cytotoxic mitozantrone, is approved by the FDA for the treatment of multiple sclerosis at different stages of the disease, as well as of certain forms of cancer. It was cleared for MS indications in October 2000, having already received approval for oncology indications in 1987. The drug formerly belonged to Immunex Corp., which was acquired by Amgen in July. U.S. sales of Novantrone were $71 million in 2001. Wyeth continues to market the drug in various other countries around the world.

• The Hungarian Biotechnology Association, a newly formed body representing the biotechnology industry in Hungary, said it joined EuropaBio, the Brussels, Belgium-based pan-European industry umbrella group. The HBA, which has 15 founding member companies, becomes the 21st national affiliate of EuropaBio. Collectively, the national associations represent 1,200 small and medium-sized companies throughout Europe, while EuropaBio also has 40 corporate members.

• The UK BioIndustry Association named David Chiswell as its new chairman. He will take over from Paul Drayson, CEO of PowderJect Pharmaceuticals plc, in January. Chiswell founded Cambridge Antibody Technology plc in 1990, and was CEO until earlier this year.