¿ Acambis plc, of Cambridge, UK, has agreed to spend $40 million to reactivate its manufacturing plant in Canton, Mass., where it will manufacture smallpox vaccine for the U.S. government. The financing is being arranged through Baxter Healthcare Corp. Baxter currently owns 12.6 percent of Acambis¿ shares, and under the deal between the companies entered in 2000, eventually will own 20 percent. The financing includes the sale and lease back of the building for $12.25 million, leaving Acambis with net cash proceeds of $10 million, and up to $25 million for the sale and lease back of all capital expenditure items needed to reactivate the plant. John Brown, Acambis¿ CEO, said the financing would enable Acambis to get the factory operating without compromising research and development expenditure. The facility will be able to manufacture both antiviral and antibacterial vaccines.
¿ Bavarian Nordic A/S, of Copenhagen, Denmark, said the Greek government ordered an undisclosed number of doses of Bavarian Nordic¿s smallpox vaccine, MVA-BN (Modified Vaccinia Ankara ¿ Bavarian Nordic). The company is in discussions with several other national administrations and said it is the only firm capable of supplying up to 200 million doses of a safe smallpox vaccine in a short time frame. It is working with P.N. Gerolymatos SA, of Athens, Greece, on the contract.
¿ Israel¿s chief scientist of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Carmel Vernia, published a tender this week soliciting private bids on setting up and operating the first two government biotechnology incubators. The deadline for submitting bids is the end of February. Bids must demonstrate a commitment to operate the incubator for at least six years and show $20 million in equity as well as proven managerial and scientific capability.
¿ Oxagen Ltd., of Oxford, UK, said it is in a collaboration with Cureon A/S, of Copenhagen, Denmark, under which Cureon will validate gene targets for Oxagen. Cureon developed SmART Validation, a target validation service based on Locked Nucleic Acids, a DNA analogue with high affinity and specificity. Once the targets are validated, Oxagen will have the right to further exploit the technology in its drug development program. Financial terms were not disclosed.
¿ PPL Therapeutics plc, of Edinburgh, Scotland, said the FDA asked it for further analyses of the Phase II study of its lead product, transgenically produced alpha-1-antitrypsin (AAT), focusing on the small number of patients with congenital AAT deficiency who did not complete the study. The request was made at a meeting between the FDA and PPL¿s partner, Bayer AG, of Leverkusen, Germany, when the two met to discuss the design of the Phase III study. PPL said it wants the analyses to be as comprehensive as possible, and therefore work is taking longer than expected. It will file its response early next year, and does not expect the delay to have a significant impact on the launch of AAT. The Phase II study in question was requested by the FDA to test the recombinant AAT when administered with Bayer¿s inhalation device.