¿ Aeres Biomedical Ltd., of London, has joined forces with Genovac AG, of Freiburg, Germany, to offer a contract service producing humanized antibodies. Genovac, founded in 1999, has developed a screening system that can identify antibodies against native proteins, without having to isolate the protein first. This enables it to generate high-quality monoclonal antibodies against chosen target proteins in a short time. Aeres Biomedical, which was formed from the Antibody Engineering Research Group of the UK Medical Research Council, will then humanize these antibodies using its CDR (Complementarity Determining Region) grafting technology.

¿ Graffinity Pharmaceutical Design GmbH, of Heidelberg, Germany, and Structural GenomiX, of San Francisco, are collaborating to create a novel approach for more rapid lead discovery. They plan to use data on interaction topology and binding modes to be investigated in the collaboration. Financial details or further information regarding the targets of the collaboration have not been disclosed.

¿ Micromet AG, of Martinsried, Germany, raised EUR6 million in a second closing of its EUR40 million (US$35.5 million) fourth private placement round in March. Investors in the second closing are HBM BioVentures, of Zurich, Switzerland, as a new investor and the Medical Biohealth-Trends fund, of Munich. Biohealth participated in the March closing. The company plans to use the additional proceeds to broaden its pipeline of immunotherapeutic drug candidates. These are expected to be based upon Micromet¿s proprietary BiTE platform. BiTE is an antibody-based drug format, designed to utilize killer cells of a patient¿s immune system, or T-cells, for the treatment of diseases such as cancer and rheumatoid arthritis.

¿ Mologen AG, of Berlin, said issuance of its patent EP 0941 318 concerning the company¿s key technology is final now and thus legally protected in Europe. The patent covers the design principle of certain gene vectors, called MIDGE, which have been developed and produced by Mologen. MIDGE is being used by Mologen and, under license by third parties, for genetic vaccination, tumor immunotherapy and gene therapy. Mologen expects issuance of a patent in the U.S. soon, it said.

¿ Oxford BioMedica plc, of Oxford, UK, announced progress in its nerve regeneration research program with King¿s College London and said it was issuing shares in the company to the college. The research is using Oxford BioMedica¿s LentiVector gene delivery system in combination with the RARb2 gene, which is associated with nerve regeneration. The team at King¿s has been working on nerve regeneration for 10 years, and said the work with LentiVector has enabled it to stimulate the growth of adult nerve cells for a longer period than previously possible. The collaboration was signed in February.

¿ PhotoCure ASA, of Oslo, Norway, said it would receive up to EUR30 million (US$26 million) in payments, exclusive of royalties, through licensing its Metvix PDT treatment for basal cell carcinoma and precancerous skin lesions to Paris-based Galderma SA. The agreement gives Galderma exclusive global marketing rights outside the Nordic region. PhotoCure will receive EUR12 million upon signing, plus up to EUR18 million in milestone payments. Annual sales in excess of EUR25 million would trigger additional milestone payments. PhotoCure will also receive fees for manufacturing its proprietary light sources and the Metvix cream.

¿ Prolifix Ltd., of Abingdon, UK, said the U.S. Patent Office granted it a patent to a range of DP1 peptides that can induce apoptosis, and which could have therapeutic potential in cancer, psoriasis and the prevention of restenosis in angioplasty patients. The company, which specializes in small-molecule inhibitors of the cell cycle, said the peptides target E2F, a protein that promotes growth, and is seen to be abnormal in tumor cells. Prolifix intends to develop small-molecule analogues of the peptide.

¿ VRI Biomedical, of Perth, Australia, started a 200-person Phase II trial of a probiotic treatment for irritable bowel syndrome. The trial involves a particular form of a beneficial microbe the company identified and labeled PCC. The trial, which is being conducted in Sydney, is one of a number of trials involving probiotics being run by the company.