Affitech AS, of Oslo, Norway, said it unveiled a new screening process for the direct isolation of human antibodies from diseased tissue. By eliminating preselection, the process ensures the antibodies are chosen primarily for their binding characteristics, Affitech said. The technology was presented at a conference on antibodies in Berlin.

Amarin Corp. plc said its subsidiary in Malmo, Sweden, Amarin Development AB, entered an partnership with Eiffel Research and Development Pty. Ltd., of Melbourne, Australia, to develop extended-release drugs by combining Amarin's technologies with Eiffel's supercritical fluid engineering technologies.

Amgen Inc., of Thousand Oaks, Calif., said stockholders at its annual meeting approved the issuance of shares of Amgen common stock in connection with the company's proposed acquisition of Immunex Corp., of Seattle. Immunex shareholders would receive 0.44 of a share of Amgen common stock and $4.50 in cash for each common Immunex share. Immunex shareholders on Thursday also approved the merger. Wyeth, of Madison, N.J., which beneficially owns 41 percent of Immunex's outstanding shares, previously agreed to vote all of its shares in favor of the transaction.

Avant Immunotherapies Inc., of Needham, Mass., said it started a placebo-controlled, dose-ranging Phase II study of its cholera vaccine in about 120 adult volunteers. The objectives of the second Phase II study are to evaluate the safety, immunogenicity and dose-response relationship of the vaccine, with the aim of evaluating a new buffer system and optimizing vaccine dosage prior to conducting pivotal Phase III studies. The study is being run at a facility in Overland Park, Kan.

Biogen Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., said that Medicare will provide coverage for multiple sclerosis patients treated with Avonex as part of physician services. The action by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services implements a law passed by Congress to restore Medicare coverage for certain injectable prescription products.

Cardiome Pharma Corp., of Vancouver, British Columbia, said it exercised an option to acquire rights from ILEX Oncology Inc., of San Antonio, to clinical trial data for oxypurinol (Oxyprim) for the treatment of symptomatic hyperuricemia in allopurinol-intolerant patients. ILEX has completed an open-label Phase II study on Oxyprim for gout patients. Financial details of the rights acquisition were not disclosed. Cardiome obtained the ILEX option pursuant to Cardiome's acquisition of Paralex Inc., valued at $20 million. (See BioWorld Today, Dec. 24, 2001.)

Crucell NV, of Leiden, the Netherlands, entered into a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with the NIH's Vaccine Research Center of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, to jointly develop a vaccine against the Ebola virus. The vaccine will be based on AdVac, Crucell's vaccination platform, and produced on PER.C6, Crucell's human designer cell line. AdVac will be equipped with optimized Ebola genes created by the NIAID. Crucell would have an option on exclusive worldwide commercialization rights to any resulting vaccine.

Ecopia Biosciences Inc., of Montreal, said it entered into two financing agreements totaling C$8 million (US$5.1 million). The first is a bought deal with Desjardins Securities Inc. and Vengate Capital Partners Co. covering the issue of about 4.44 million shares and the private placement of them at C90 cents per share, for C$4 million. A second private placement with the same shares and proceeds is with Fonds de solidarite FTQ. Each financing is conditional upon the successful completion of the other. Ecopia focuses on microorganisms that produce a range of therapeutically active molecules for drug discovery applications.

Epicyte Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, said its production partner, Dow Chemical Co., of Midland, Mich., is growing the first greenhouse plant lines to yield a treatment for respiratory syncytial virus. Dow has a license to use Epicyte's technology to produce in corn Epicyte's RSV product, R-19. The alliance calls for Dow to act as contract manufacturer. The product is the fifth protein from the alliance that Dow has placed into its plant expression system.

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, of Seattle, said its scientists have discovered that the gene Sir2, studied in yeast and worms, has a counterpart in fruit flies that plays a role in genetic regulation of early development. The discovery may lead to better tests for anticancer drugs, the scientists said. The finding was published in the May 17, 2002, issue of Cell.

Genset SA, of Paris, appointed Marc Vasseur CEO and chairman, following the resignation of Andre Pernet. Vasseur co-founded Genset in 1989 and served as director and chief biology officer until 2000, at which point he left the company to create Pasteur-Mediavita, a spin-off of the Institut Pasteur, where he was president and CEO. Vasseur returned to Genset earlier this year as senior vice president. Genset develops drugs for central nervous system and metabolic disorders.

Mimotopes Pty. Ltd., of Melbourne, Australia, a wholly owned subsidiary of MitoKor, said it signed a letter of intent with the Baker Medical Research Institute of Melbourne to jointly develop a new class of drugs for the treatment of congestive heart failure and other cardiovascular system diseases. Mimotopes will apply its medicinal chemistry knowledge to the Baker Institute's cardiovascular medicine expertise. Terms were not disclosed.

MorphoSys AG, of Martinsried, Germany, and ProChon Biotech Ltd., of Rehovot, Israel, signed an expanded antibody development agreement under which MorphoSys acquired exclusive rights in oncology to a portfolio of anticancer antibodies being developed at ProChon. They also agreed to expand an existing collaboration to work on related antibodies. The antibodies, generated using MorphoSys' HuCal technology, are directed against fibroblast growth factor receptor 3. Terms were not disclosed.

Myriad Genetics Inc., of Salt Lake City, said it introduced a new predictive medicine product for the risk of hereditary colon cancer, called Colaris AP. Colaris detects mutations in the APC gene that cause a colon polyp-forming syndrome known as familial adenomatous polyposis and a variation, attenuated FAP. Separately, Myriad introduced an accelerated-turnaround-time version of its first Colaris product, called Rapid Colaris.

Neuro Discovery Inc., of Vancouver, British Columbia, said it is undertaking a non-brokered private placement of 500,000 common shares at C$2 per share. Neuro Discovery received gross proceeds of C$775,000 (US$499,000) pursuant to a first closing of the C$1 million private placement. In the first closing, it issued 387,500 common shares at C$2 per share to a group of individual investors. The securities issued pursuant to the placement are subject to a four-month hold period from the time of issue. The company said it expects an additional closing in the next 30 days. The company invests in bitoech companies and technology in the neuroscience sector.

Sanochemia Pharmazeutika AG, an Austrian neuropharmacology corporation, signed a collaborative research agreement with the British neuroscience company Synaptica Ltd., of Harwell, UK, under which the companies will jointly evaluate Sanochemia's next-generation neuroprotective galantamine derivatives. The first phase of the agreement is expected to conclude during the summer, whereupon an extension of the collaboration is anticipated if results warrant it, the companies said. Sanochemia will have exclusive access to the results obtained by Synaptica, which would be used to develop third-generation therapies for Alzheimer's disease and other cognitive disorders. Synaptica will gain access to Sanochemia's compounds for use in its own neurodegeneration program. Financial details were not disclosed.

Targeted Genetics Corp., of Seattle, said it completed enrollment in a 36-patient Phase II cystic fibrosis trial, designed to evaluate the safety and clinical impact of tgAAVCF in CF patients. The last patient has received the first of three doses of placebo or tgAAVCF. Targeted Genetics said the study is the first to evaluate repeat dosing of an adeno-associated virus-based product in patients with CF. It intends to announce the results at the North American Cystic Fibrosis meeting in October.

Viragen Inc., of Plantation, Fla., said its Viragen (Scotland) Ltd. unit received a $650,000 grant from the Scottish government to be used for the development of avian transgenic technology in collaboration with the Roslin Institute, of Edinburgh, Scotland.

Zyomyx Inc., of Hayward, Calif., said it delivered a Protein Profiling Biochip system to its first early access collaborator, Specialty Laboratories Inc., of Santa Monica, Calif. The system includes an assay workstation, scanner, data analysis software and internally validated biochips, it said.

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