Antisoma plc, of London, said it has been granted a UK patent on fusion proteins consisting of a tumor-targeting element, such as an antibody, coupled with the enzyme caspase, which is capable of inducing apoptosis. The company is working in collaboration with Imperial College London on its targeted apoptosis program, aimed at the introduction of specific enzymes to tumor cells. The work is concentrating on caspases 3, 6 and 7, which all promote cell death. A range of antibody caspase fusion proteins has been produced, which can target, bind to and kill tumor cells in vitro.

Biovitrum AB, of Stockholm, Sweden, a company formed last year as a spin-off of the metabolic diseases unit of Pharmacia Corp., of Peapack, N.J., has attracted Nobel laureate Barry Sharples to its newly created scientific advisory board. Sharples, of the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif., received the 2001 Nobel Prize in chemistry for his work on chirally catalyzed oxidation reactions. The five-man board is chaired by Hans Wigzell, president of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, who is a member of the Nobel Assembly and a former chair of the Nobel Prize committee. The other members include Ralf Pettersson, director of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research in Stockholm and another member of the Nobel Prize committee; Hannele Yki-Jarvinen, of the University of Helsinki; and Steve O'Rahilly, of the University of Cambridge.

Kiadis BV, of Leiden, the Netherlands, said it reached the first milestone in its collaboration with Unilever plc, of London. The project involves the application of its proprietary high-resolution screening technology to existing complex natural matrices in order to obtain bioactivity and structural data on molecules with specific bioactivities. Kiadis, a spin-out from the University of Leiden, changed its name from Screentec earlier this year as part of a strategic move to add drug discovery to its existing high-throughput molecular screening and analysis activities.

Oxford BioMedica plc, of Oxford, UK, announced a collaboration with Arius Research Inc., of Toronto, to search for targets and develop products in the area of tumor immunotherapy. Arius will supply 50 antitumor antibodies it has identified to Oxford BioMedica, which will be responsible for characterizing the antibodies and identifying their respective tumor-associated antigens using its gene discovery and immunotherapy technologies. Any products of the collaboration would be licensed once proof of principle is established.

Pharmagene plc, of Royston, UK, said it signed a further agreement with GlaxoSmithKline plc, of London, to use Pharmagene's human tissue-testing services to investigate the metabolism of a number of GSK's development compounds before they enter clinical development. Financial details were not disclosed.

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