Adprotech Ltd., of Cambridge, UK, said it would extend and expand its malaria vaccine program, after signing a license with the UK Medical Research Council giving it exclusive rights to MSP1.19, a protein found on the surface of the malarial parasite Plasmodium falciparum. MSP1.19 is considered a good candidate to control malaria, but it stimulates a weak immune response only when used alone. Part of the license relates to mutations in MSP1.19 that are intended to increase the response, and Adprotech said it will apply these, along with its proprietary Immudaptin technology, which in preclinical studies has been shown to enhance the immunogenicity of MSP1.19 proteins.

Atugen AG, of Berlin, in a target validation agreement plans to provide the University of California at San Francisco with its GeneBloc antisense platform to validate targets associated with epithelial membrane regulation. Atugen’s U.S. division will supply university researchers with highly specific GeneBlocs and proprietary efficient, low-toxicity delivery lipids to knock down the expression of these targets. The research is expected to forward progress in important epithelial diseases, such as cancer. Atugen expects to receive the first option to commercialize any technology resulting from the collaboration. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Cytomyx Holdings Ltd., of Cambridge, UK, a drug discovery services company, entered a collaboration with the specialist heart hospital, Papworth Hospital NHS Trust, of Huntingdon, UK, to discover and validate new targets associated with cardiovascular disease. Papworth will provide samples of diseased heart tissue obtained as part its heart transplant program, and Cytomyx will apply its proteomics technology to identify protein targets. The collaboration initially will focus on the muscle disease, dilated cardiomyopathy.

Evotec OAI AG, of Hamburg, Germany, extended its chemical library collaboration with Serono SA, of Geneva, by an additional year. Evotec OAI may receive milestone payments for all patented compounds to enter clinical trials coming from the program and royalties on those commercialized, the company said.

MorphoSys AG, of Martinsried, Germany, said it started to build up its own preclinical and clinical development unit, and said the core operation is now fully staffed and operational. The head of the team is physician Axel Mescheder. He previously was director of clinical research and development with Genetics Institute/Wyeth-Ayerst Research’s Martinsried facilities.

Oxford Natural Products plc, of Charlbury, UK, signed an agreement with the Center for Research and Development of Ethnomedicinal Plants in Vietnam, giving ONP exclusive access to a portfolio of plant medicines. The portfolio includes materials with well-documented anticholesterol and hepato-protective functions. Products selected to enter ONP’s pipeline will be fast-tracked to commercialization using the company’s proprietary Total Quality Profiling technology for translating traditional medicines into prescription pharmaceuticals.

Pieris Proteolab AG, of Freising, Germany, and CytoTools GmbH, of Darmstadt, Germany, are collaborating in the discovery of anticalins against a number of CytoTools’ targets implicated in atherosclerosis. Pieris granted to CytoTools an exclusive license to the anticalins developed during the collaboration. Pieris expects to receive milestone payments and royalties, and has first-refusal rights if CytoTools chooses to sublicense the anticalins.

Transgene SA, of Strasbourg, France, initiated two Phase II clinical trials of its MVA-Muc1-IL2 immunotherapeutic vaccine candidate for the treatment of lung and breast cancers. The product uses a highly attenuated MVA vaccinia virus vector to express the Muc1 tumor-associated antigen and the cytokine interleukin-2 to stimulate specific T-cell responses. The Muc1 antigen is expressed in more than 90 percent of breast cancers and over 60 percent of lung cancers, and in earlier animal studies the product was found to induce an efficient immune response to the expression of the Muc1 antigen, producing a strong antitumor effect.

Vernalis Group plc, of Winnersh, UK, announced it has completed the mutual recognition procedure, giving it approval for the migraine treatment frovatriptan in 14 European countries, and said its marketing partner, Menarini Ltd., of Italy, will launch it over the next few months under the name Migard. The drug recently received approval in the U.S., where it will be marketed by Elan Corp plc. Vernalis CEO Robert Mansfield said he expects royalty payments to commence this year.