¿ Biomax Informatics AG, of Martinsried, Germany, said Millennium Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., licensed Biomax¿s BioRS Integration and Retrieval Plus System (version 4.0). Millennium will use the system as a bioinformatics tool in its technology platform, Biomax said. In addition to working with flat-file databases, the BioRS Plus system is able to integrate and work with relational databases, Biomax said. Financial details were not disclosed.
¿ Cardia Technologies Ltd., of Brisbane, Australia, agreed to put A$1.3 million (US$0.67 million) into a therapy for Type II diabetes being developed at Monash University in Melbourne. The therapy involves simulating the production of a naturally occurring protein that helps insulin work better in the body.
¿ GeneMedix plc, of Newmarket, UK, received its first approval, getting the go-ahead from the Chinese State Drug Administration to sell recombinant human granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF). This is a generic version of a drug produced by Schering-Plough Corp. GM-CSF is used in the treatment of neutropenia (low white blood cell count) induced by chemotherapy, bone marrow transplants and AIDS-related disorders. The market in China currently is estimated to be around #25 million (US$35.6 million) per annum and is growing 20 percent per year. GeneMedix, which is listed in London and Singapore, owns a manufacturing plant in Shanghai. The company plans to produce generic versions of protein drugs that are either coming off patent or are not patent protected in certain territories. It has said it will launch generic versions of erythropoietin and interferon alpha in 2002.
¿ GeneScan Europe AG, of Freiburg, Germany, said its subsidiaries GENE-SCAN GmbH, of Freiburg; Hanse Analytik GmbH, of Bremen; and BioInside GmbH, of Teltow, merged into the newly formed GeneScan Analytics GmbH, with headquarters in Freiburg. Restructuring at GeneScan also includes formation of an AgroFood Business Unit. It encompasses all the companies of the GeneScan group operating in the agriculture and food business. These are GeneScan Analytics, as well as GeneScan¿s subsidiaries in France, the U.S., Australia, Brazil and Hong Kong. GeneScan expects to consolidate and further enhance its technological leadership and market position, the company said.
¿ GPC Biotech AG and MorphoSys AG, both of Martinsried, Germany, announced the achievement of a preclinical milestone in GPC Biotech¿s antibody program for the treatment of specific blood cancers (MHC class II-positive B-cell lymphomas). GPC Biotech showed that a human antibody generated and optimized by MorphoSys from its HuCAL library had significant in vivo efficacy. Injected into immune-deficient mice, the antibody was shown to completely inhibit tumor growth in the majority of the cases or significantly delay it, the companies said. The milestone triggers an undisclosed payment from GPC Biotech to MorphoSys. ¿This antibody is the first ever HuCAL-derived antibody confirming efficacy in animal models, and as such, represents an important achievement for us,¿ MorphoSys CSO Thomas von Rueden said in a prepared statement.
¿ LION Bioscience AG, of Heidelberg, Germany, and MDL Information Systems Inc., of San Leandro, Calif., entered into a software licensing and reselling agreement. LION said it will license a wide range of MDL¿s industry-standard informatics applications and databases in order to develop and commercialize software applications that can interface with MDL¿s products. At the same time MDL will be the exclusive global reseller for LION¿s iDEA product line for the prediction and analysis of ADME (adsorption, distribution, metabolism, excretion). Financial details of the agreements were not disclosed. Separately, LION said it released a new complete transcript reconstruction software called SRS EverEST 1.0, for use in the discovery and analysis of genes.
¿ MainGen Biotechnologie GmbH, a subsidiary of Frankfurt, Germany-based Zentaris AG, was granted DM1.3 million (US$582,000) by the German Research Ministry. The grant is expected to support development of new immunotherapies basing on bispecific co-stimulating molecules for cancer applications. MainGen is collaborating on the project with one clinical and two academic groups.
¿ MediGene AG, of Martinsried, Germany, announced positive results from the clinical Phase III study of Leuprogel Three-Month Depot for the treatment of advanced prostate cancer. The clinical trial was conducted by Atrix Laboratories Inc. In April, MediGene entered into an exclusive European marketing agreement with Atrix for three Leuprogel products to treat advanced prostate cancer. Atrix plans to submit the new drug application for marketing approval of the three-month formulation to the FDA later this year, MediGene said, adding that an NDA for the one-month product already was submitted to the FDA. A Phase III trial for the four-month application of Leuprogel is under way, MediGene said.
¿ MorphoSys AG, of Martinsried, Germany, and Prochon Ltd., of Rehovot, Israel, announced discovery of a novel antibody lead resulting from a collaboration initiated in June 2000. The antibody selected from MorphoSys¿ HuCAL antibody libraries was demonstrated by ProChon to specifically block the function of mutated, overactive forms of human growth factor receptors. Such mutated receptors are associated with inherited skeletal disorders and have been linked to tumor progression and prognosis in several types of cancer, including bladder carcinoma, cervical carcinoma and multiple myeloma.
¿ Optecom Ltd., of Sydney, Australia, said it will buy a biotechnology company called Ambri Systems, of Melbourne, which has developed a series of single-use disposable sensors using biotech materials, as diagnostic tests. Ambri is being bought from a large industrial company called Pacific Dunlop, in Melbourne, for A$10 million (US$5.1 million).
¿ Oxxon Pharmaccines, of Oxford, UK, licensed adenovirus vaccine technology from Isis Innovation, the technology transfer arm of Oxford University. The license covers worldwide use of an adenovirus vaccine to boost immune response to an antigen in infectious diseases and cancer. The technology will allow the company to deliver two-stage vaccines, using vectors such as DNA to prime the immune system to recognize tumor cells or infectious agents, then boosting the effect with the adenovirus, prompting an immune response with enough power to destroy tumor cells or combat infections.
¿ Pieris Proteolab AG, of Weihenstephan, Germany, appointed Martin Poehlchen CEO. Poehlchen previously served as vice president, business development at Martinsried-based MediGene AG. Prior to joining MediGene he worked for Tripos Inc., of St. Louis. Pieris focuses on Anticalin therapies and diagnostics for a variety of diseases and other applications. Anticalins are engineered receptor proteins with antibody-like functions, Pieris said.
¿ SkyePharma plc, of London, entered a collaboration with privately held Arakis Ltd., of Cambridge, UK, to jointly develop AD 313 for the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The potential of AD 313 and its novel mechanism have been confirmed in a clinical proof-of-concept study conducted by Arakis in COPD patients. In that study, changes in key markers of lung tissue destruction were observed in sputum samples. Existing treatments for COPD deal with the symptoms, but unlike AD 313, do not halt the underlying tissue destruction. AD 313 is a currently marketed drug that Arakis has modified using its performance-enhancing technologies. The collaboration will involve delivering the drug using SkyePharma¿s inhalation formulation and device technology. The two will jointly fund development and share profits equally.