¿ 3i Group plc, a London-based venture capital company, surveyed CEOs from Europe¿s 70 leading biotechnology companies. Results showed the CEOs are more confident than this time last year of the sectors¿ future profitability. CEOs polled at a 3i conference in Barcelona, Spain, last week said they expected pharmaceutical companies to increase their reliance on in-licensing products from biotechnology companies. This would lead pharma¿s revenues from in-licensed products to double from 20 percent now to 40 percent by 2010. The CEOs also said there is increasing evidence of a brain drain from pharmaceutical companies toward biotechnology.
¿ 4SC AG and Axxima Pharmaceuticals AG, both of Martinsried, Germany, agreed to collaborate on identification of small-molecule kinase inhibitors for treatment of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infections. Using Axxima¿s protein kinase assays, 4SC plans to apply its virtual high-throughput screening technology against its own library of compounds to generate and synthesize new lead candidates. Axxima expects to develop and commercialize anti-infective HCMV kinase inhibitors resulting from this collaboration. The deal for 4SC includes milestone and royalty payments. Further financial details were not disclosed.
¿ Adprotech Ltd., of Cambridge, UK, said its lead product, APT070, will enter a Phase II clinical trial in rheumatoid arthritis by the end of 2002, following successful Phase I studies. The Phase IIa study will assess safety, tolerability and biochemical and clinical responses in three groups of 15 patients. APT070 uses Adprotech¿s Prodaptin-M deliver technology to target protein therapeutics to the immune system.
¿ Alizyme plc, of Cambridge, UK, said it received approval to start a 500-patient Phase IIb trial comparing three doses of ATL-1251 and placebo in the treatment of constipation-predominant irritable bowel syndrome. The trial will be carried out in a doctor¿s office setting in the UK and will involve both men and women. Preliminary results are expected by the end of 2002, providing information for the design of a Phase III trial, which is expected to start in 2003. ATL-1251, acquired from the former SmithKline Beecham, has both 5-HT4 receptor agonist and 5-HT3 receptor antagonist activity, giving it a distinct profile.
¿ Atugen AG, of Berlin, signed an agreement with San Diego-based Arena Pharmaceuticals Inc. to evaluate the use of atugen¿s technology for Arena¿s research and development in the area of G protein-coupled receptors. Atugen plans to optimize its proprietary GeneBloc and cellular delivery technologies to knock down the expression of central nervous system (CNS) gene targets provided by Arena. Arena then plans to use the GeneBloc antisense molecules to evaluate gene function in CNS in vivo models. Financial terms were not disclosed.
¿ Bayer AG, of Leverkusen, Germany, licensed a proprietary drug candidate, MEM 1003 for potential treatment of dementia, to Memory Pharmaceuticals Corp., of Montvale, N.J. The license agreement gives Memory the right to commercialize the drug candidate to market. Memory agreed to pay Bayer royalties, up-front and milestone payments. Financial terms were not disclosed.
¿ BioBridge Computing AB, of Lund, Sweden, signed a license deal with AstraZeneca plc, of London, for its protein identification software, PIUMS. The deal includes the formation of a joint development group to create a high-throughput version of the system, which uses mass spectrometry data to identify proteins from sequence databases.
¿ Celltech Group plc, of Slough, UK, said it is buying Thiemann Arzneimittel GmbH for #31.2 million (US$45.7 million) in cash, providing Celltech with a pharmaceutical sales and marketing organization in Germany, the largest market in Europe. Thiemann, based in Waltrop, has 130 employees and had sales of #24.6 million in 2000. CEO Peter Fellner said the acquisition is an important step toward Celltech¿s strategic objective of building a pan-European sales and marketing structure, and increasing its attractiveness as a global marketing partner.
¿ CeNeS Pharmaceuticals plc, of Cambridge, UK, said its drug delivery division has signed an alliance with International Processing Corp. (IPC) to co-promote CeNeS¿ oral sustained-release drug delivery technology in the U.S. The two will jointly market the technology, with CeNeS being responsible for formulation, development and supply of product for Phases I and II, and IPC responsible for manufacturing for Phase III and beyond. As well as increasing marketing resources, this deal is attractive to CeNeS because it provides access to FDA-approved manufacturing. IPC belongs to the health care services provider Cardinal Health Inc., which is headquartered in Dublin, Ireland.
¿ Evotec OAI, of Hamburg, Germany, entered into a license and technology agreement with Novartis Pharma AG, of Basel, Switzerland. The agreement entitles Evotec to deploy, further develop and exclusively market Novartis¿ AIDA on-bead chemistry in combination with Evotec¿s PICKOscreen on-bead screening technology for drug discovery. Evotec expects this combination to increase the quality of identifying drug candidates synthesized on beads.
¿ GPC Biotech AG, of Martinsried, Germany, said the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued two patents (Nos. 6,271,197 and 6,277,564) covering the antifungal drug target geranylgeranyl transferase type 1 (GGTase). The newly issued patents cover novel antifungal drug discovery assays and the commercial development of important new therapeutics for fungal diseases. The GGTase program is the company¿s most advanced antifungal drug discovery program.
¿ MediGene AG, of Martinsried, Germany, expanded a licensing agreement with Children¿s Hospital Boston covering the herpes simplex virus-based Amplicon technology. The exclusive worldwide license to the basic Amplicon patent family entitles MediGene to use the HSV Amplicon technology for all prophylactic and therapeutic applications in humans. MediGene also may use it for commercial research purposes, and has a right to grant sublicenses.
¿ MorphoSys AG, of Martinsried, Germany, is collaborating with Oridis Biomed Forschungs- und Entwicklungs GmbH, of Graz, Austria, on validating potential drug targets provided by Oridis. MorphoSys plans to generate antibodies against such targets. Oridis acquired a license to use MorphoSys¿ HuCal technology and gets access to some of MorphoSys¿ antibodies. MorphoSys has the right to negotiate first on any antibody products arising from the collaboration. Financial terms were not disclosed.
¿ Novuspharma SpA, of Milan, Italy, said its lead compound, BBR 2778, which is in Phase II trials in the treatment of non-Hodgkin¿s lymphoma, also has shown efficacy in animal models of multiple sclerosis (MS). Incidence of neurological symptoms was reduced by more than 50 percent compared to placebo-treated animals, mortality and disease severity significantly decreased and disease onset was delayed. BBR 2778 had a similar effect as mitoxantrone, which is the only approved drug for the severe, progressive form of MS, but which is associated with cardiac toxicity. Novuspharma said it would actively pursue this indication, and further preclinical studies are planned.
¿ TFG Venture Capital AG & Co., of Marl, Germany, invested EUR2.34 million (US$2.16 million) into MERIX Bioscience Inc., of Durham, N.C. It was Merix¿s second round of financing. International commitment in life science companies will play an increasingly important role for TFG in the future, the company said.
¿ Procorde AG, of Martinsried, Germany, and Aventis Pharma Deutschland GmbH, of Frankfurt, Germany, entered into a two-year collaboration to identify new drug targets in the fields of heart and vascular diseases. Procorde plans to use its Sigscreen platform, which allows examination of targets directly in vivo in preclinical heart failure animal models, speeding up target validation, Procorde said. The company plans to validate 10 selected candidate genes. The agreement includes a basic payment and milestone payments for Procorde.