Atox Bio, of Jerusalem, was awarded a $3.1 million research grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to jointly develop and commercialize treatment that would prevent the deadly sequelae of toxic shock caused by Staphylococcal and Streptococcal bacteria, potential bioweapons. “Our advantage is that we are now going to test the blocker in animal models that were already proven to the FDA,” said Raymond Kaempfer, lead scientist on the project. “In our own animal trials, we could show that a particular small peptide blocker first does no harm, and that it prevents the toxicity cascade’ leading to toxic and septic shock in animals. In vitro, the molecule halts T-cell activation before the induction of cytokine release that triggers the toxic cascade.” Atox Bio operates under the aegis of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Yissum Research Development Co., but the company owns all intellectual property.
Biotie Therapies Oyj, of Turku, Finland, said the district court of Helsinki dismissed an action brought against it by Orion Corp., of Espoo. Orion, Finland’s largest pharmaceutical company, had sought to have transferred to it a set of patents and patent applications associated with Biotie’s Vascular Adhesion Protein-1 program. The ruling lifts a prohibition in place since 1999 that prevented Biotie from entering into any licensing or other commercial agreements relating to the disputed inventions.
Cambridge Antibody Technology Group plc, of Melbourn, UK, said it bought out its royalty agreement with Drug Royalty Corp. Inc., of Toronto. The move follows CAT’s offer to buy DRC, which failed last week when Inwest Investment Ltd. acquired control of DRC. CAT is paying a C$14 million (US$8.9 million) termination payment to DRC through the allotment of 463,818 CAT shares at 10 pence each.
Cyprotex plc, of Macclesfield, UK, said Mark Egerton, formerly vice president of European business operations for Incyte Genomics Inc., will become its CEO. Cyprotex, which joined the Alternative Investment Market in London in February, develops software that simulates the distribution of a drug to the organs of the body. The company plans to provide an online predictive screening service.
Diversys Ltd., of Cambridge, UK, said it is changing its name to Domantis. The company said the change reflects its focus on domain antibody technology. Diversys was established in December 2000 to develop domain antibodies, the smallest functional binding units of antibodies, as therapeutics.
Inforsense Ltd., of London, announced the latest version of Kensington Discovery Edition, a software platform for industrial-scale discovery management, which provides a unified platform for data integration, data analysis and discovery process design. The product can be used to combine gene expression profiling with metabolite expression data to track biomarkers in target validation, and to combine high-throughput screening data with gene and protein expression analysis, to link the chemical properties of compounds to their biological effects.
Ionix Pharmaceuticals Ltd., of Cambridge, UK, signed an agreement with Tripos Inc., of St. Louis, to collaborate on the design and synthesis of inhibitors of an Ionix drug target. The companies will work on an ion channel target that is involved in the perception and signaling of pain. Ionix said studies to date indicate that drugs that block the target could treat chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain. Tripos is a provider of discovery chemistry services.
IsoTis BV, of Bilthoven, the Netherlands, said it exercised its option to acquire the PolyActive patent portfolio from the U.S. company Osteotech Inc., for $1 million. PolyActive is a family of biodegradable and biocompatible polymers, which IsoTis will use for drug delivery and to produce biomedical devices.
Oxford GlycoSciences plc, of Abingdon, UK, announced a 36-month update on its monotherapy trial of Vevesca (OGT 918) in the treatment of type 1 Gaucher’s disease, showing the 13 patients who continued to take the orally available drug showed significant improvements in liver volume, spleen volume, hemoglobin concentrations and platelet counts. The side-effect profile was consistent with that previously described, with no further instances of peripheral neuropathy, following two cases reported in 2000. The company also released data on the combination/switch trial involving patients who had been receiving Cerezyme enzyme replacement therapy administered intravenously. Of the 33 patients who completed the six-month trial, 29 elected to enter an extension protocol. After 18 months, 22 still were receiving Vevesca, and no one had returned to Cerezyme because of deteriorating disease.
Pharming Group NV, of Leiden, the Netherlands, said it is making significant progress on restructuring following its filing for legal protection from bankruptcy in August. Announcing its annual results last week, the company said it has reduced costs by over 35 percent, closed operations in Belgium and Finland and reduced its headcount from 200 to 50. It also sold all rights to its lead product, transgenically produced human alpha-glucosidase for the treatment of Pompe’s disease, to Genzyme Corp. The company appointed a turnaround specialist, Francis Pinto, as CEO in February, and is now examining options to refinance the business.
Trigen Ltd., of London, transferred the drug discovery group of the Thrombosis Research Institute, also in London, to its own operations. The transfer involves a group of scientists who were involved in the development of Trigen’s lead product, TRI 50b, an anticoagulant thrombin inhibitor that is in Phase II trials. Since it was established in 1992 to commercialize the research of the Thrombosis Research Institute, Trigen has operated as a virtual company. In January it raised £7.1 million in a first round to fund development of TRI 50b and allow the company to develop its own discovery and development facilities. CEO Sanjay Kakkar said the integration of the drug discovery group “marks another step in Trigen’s transition from a virtual operation to an integrated company.”