Acambis plc, of Cambridge, UK, announced positive results from a Phase I trial of the smallpox vaccine it is developing for the U.S. government. ACAM1000 was compared to Dryvax, the smallpox vaccine that was used in the worldwide smallpox eradication program, in a randomized double-blind trial involving 60 subjects. All those injected with ACAM1000 showed the characteristic pock mark at the site of the injection, which is the accepted indication of protective immunogenicity. No serious or adverse events were reported and a second open-label trial has begun to test ACAM1000's safety and immunogenicity further.
Amsterdam Molecular Therapeutics, of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, signed a license with Schering-Plough-Corp. for the use of interleukin-10 in ex vivo gene therapy in inflammatory diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. AMT is developing the therapy for the maintenance of remission in Crohn's disease and has established proof of principle in a mouse model.
Astex Technology Ltd., of Cambridge, UK, a specialist in the use of high-throughput X-ray crystallography in structure-based drug discovery, said it received its first milestone payment from Aventis Pharmaceuticals for its work in solving the 3-dimensional structure of a human cytochrome P450. Cytochrome P450s are the most important enzymes involved in drug metabolism in humans, and adverse reactions to a number of marketed drugs have been attributed to their activity, the company said.
Cambridge Antibody Technology Group plc, of Melbourn, UK, said its lead product, D2E7, has entered two further clinical studies, a Phase III trial in juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and a Phase II/III in Crohn's disease. The trials are being conducted by CAT's partner, Abbott Laboratories. D2E7, an anti-TNF alpha antibody, is under review in the U.S. and Europe for the treatment of adult rheumatoid arthritis and, if approved, will be the first fully human monoclonal antibody to be registered.
Genetic Technologies Ltd., of Melbourne, Australia, sold a license for its patented technology for analyzing the noncoding parts of the genome to Perlegen Sciences Inc. The specific terms of the deal, the third involving the technology Genetic Technologies has signed with U.S. companies, remain confidential. The company stated that it received an issue fee of A$1.6 million (US$860,000 million).
Microscience Ltd., of Wokingham, UK, entered an agreement with the University System of Maryland to license the university's Bactofection DNA vaccine technology, making it possible to deliver DNA vaccines orally. Microscience will marry this technology with its spi-VEC proprietary oral bacterial vector to develop DNA vaccines to treat cancer and viral and bacterial infections.
Provalis plc, of Deeside, UK, said that it is pulling out of vaccines research to concentrate its research and development efforts on diagnostics, and has put its vaccines programs up for sale. The company said it expects to divest the preclinical vaccines by 2003.
Transgene SA, of Strasbourg, France, appointed Philippe Poncet chief financial officer in succession to Paul Bikard. Poncet, 35, comes from Lyon, France-based Aventis CropScience, where he spent 11 years in the corporate finance department, most recently as coordinator for mergers and acquisitions.
Vernalis Group plc, of Wokingham, UK, saw its shares rise by 20.5 pence to 52.5 pence on Sept. 3 when the company announced positive results in a Phase IV trial of frovatriptan in the prevention of menstrual migraine. The company said it will be conducting further trials.