Astex Technology Ltd., of Cambridge, UK, agreed to a deal with Maybridge plc, of Tintagel, UK, to access Maybridge's collection of proprietary chemistries. The partners will construct an in silico library that Astex will screen against targets it has generated through its industrial-scale X-ray crystallography technology. Active compounds will then be optimized using Astex's structure-based design tools. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Genmab A/S, of Copenhagen, Denmark, said it entered a collaboration with Ace BioSciences A/S, of Odense, Denmark, to develop therapeutic antibodies for infectious disease. Under the agreement, the companies will share development costs and eventual revenues from sales or out-licensing. The collaboration covers four disease targets, which Ace BioSciences will provide. Genmab will supply its antibody technologies for generating, characterizing and validating fully human monoclonal antibodies. The initiative represents a new direction for Genmab. Until now, it had focused solely on inflammation and cancer.
Biosearch Italia SpA, of Milan, Italy, said it reacquired North American development and commercialization rights to the novel antibiotic Ramoplanin for topical applications from IntraBiotics Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Mountain View, Calif. Oral rights to the product in the same territory reverted to the Italian firm last May. IntraBiotics' failure to initiate clinical trials involving the topical form of the antibiotic triggered the latest move. The oral form of Ramoplanin, which is being developed by Genome Therapeutics Inc., of Waltham, Mass., is currently in Phase III clinical trials for prevention of bloodstream infections caused by vancomycin-resistant enterococci. Biosearch Italia said it would consider future development of topically applied Ramoplanin in indications such as Gram-positive skin infections.
Genomatix Software GmbH, a privately held company in Munich, Germany, reported that researchers at a U.S. national laboratory used its software to find a new DNA signature for diagnosing foot and mouth disease. The new signature detects all seven known serotypes of the virus, one more than current tests are able to detect, before symptoms have developed, the company said. The laboratory is expected to port the technology to its supercomputers, where its high throughput will speed development. Genomatix executives were optimistic that the technology could be used to develop tests for many other diseases, particularly those that might be part of biological warfare or terrorism.
Matrix Therapeutics plc, of Nottingham, UK, agreed to a research deal with Glycores SRL, of Milan, Italy, giving Matrix rights to a number of oligosaccharide drug candidates developed by Glycores, in the treatment of cancer and inflammatory diseases.
MediGene AG, of Martinsried, Germany, won orphan drug designation for its compound G207, a drug candidate for the treatment of the aggressive brain cancer malignant glioma, from the United States FDA. The designation gives MediGene exclusive marketing rights for G207 in the U.S. for seven years following FDA market approval, as well as tax benefits, possible government support for clinical research and potential waiver of fees associated with filing the marketing application. Malignant glioma affects an estimated 30,000 patients in Europe and the U.S. combined. G207 is currently in a Phase Ib/II trial.
MVM Ltd., of London, a venture capital fund manager specializing in life sciences, raised £100 million (US$144.9 million) at the close of its second fund, MVM International Life Sciences Fund II. New investors include Goldman Sachs Private Equity Group, the European Investment Bank, Hamburgische Landesbank, Swiss Re, Scottish Widows Investment Partnership and the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation. The fund has an agreement with the publicly funded Medical Research Council, giving it a six-month period of exclusivity to negotiate for any MRC technology.
Oxford BioMedica plc, of Oxford, UK, announced a research collaboration with the Institute of Ophthalmology in London to develop products to treat age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy based on Oxford BioMedica's gene therapy platforms. For the past year, the company has been evaluating the use of its LentiVector gene transfer platform and its Hypoxia Response Element (HRE) technology for switching genes on and off, in the treatment of eye diseases. LentiVector is suitable for delivering genes to the eye, while HRE can be used to inhibit the formation of blood vessels, the underlying cause of both macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.
Paradigm Therapeutics Ltd., of Cambridge, UK, was selected as the industrial partner in two consortia that have been awarded a total of £1.7 million (US$2.5 million) under the European Union's Framework 5 research program. The award in hematopoiesis and cancer will broaden knowledge of the molecular mechanisms that govern cell physiology and identify new drug targets, while the Synaptogenet award is to carry out research into synaptic communication in the brain. Separately, Paradigm said it won a UK government grant to identify novel peptide hormones. Paradigm's platform technology allows it to define the biological function of previously uncharacterized human drugable proteins.
ReNeuron Holdings plc, of Guildford, UK, which uses stem cells to treat central nervous system diseases, said it received notices of allowance on two U.S. patents. The first relates to a way to make cells divide indefinitely using two immortalizing genes, and to control the ability to divide by varying the temperature. The second patent relates to the identification of specific genes that are switched on in neural stem lines when repairing a damaged brain. Those genetic markers will help the company predict whether new cell lines under development are likely to be effective in brain repair.
SkyePharma plc, of London, said it transferred all European rights to market Solaraze, its treatment for actinic keratosis, to Shire Pharmaceuticals plc, also of London, for up to £15 million (US$21.7 million). That follows the move into administration of the previous marketing partner, Bioglan Pharma plc. Separately, SkyePharma said it acquired the drug delivery business of Bioglan AB, Bioglan's Swedish subsidiary, for £2.8 million in cash, and will assume £1.1 million of net liabilities.