¿ Acambis plc,of Cambridge, UK, won grants worth $1.3 million from the U.S. Department of Defense, to support development of oral vaccines to prevent diarrhea caused by E. coli and Camphylobacter. These are two of the leading causes of diarrhea among travelers and military personnel stationed overseas. The grants were awarded under the Dual Use Science and Technology program, which aims to promote development of technology that has both a military use and commercial potential.
¿ Atugen AG, of Berlin, entered a collaboration with the Serono Pharmaceutical Research Institute (SPRI), of Geneva, in the field of therapeutic gene discovery and validation. SPRI is a division of Serono SA. Atugen will optimize delivery of its proprietary GeneBloc antisense molecules to certain cell lines provided by Serono, with the aim of inhibiting expression of gene targets selected by Serono. The most active GeneBlocs, together with proprietary delivery vehicles and protocols, will be transferred to Serono for further phenotypic analysis, atugen said. Financial details were not disclosed.
¿ Ethypharm, of Saint-Cloud, France, said it will defer its initial public offering on the Premier Marche exchange of Euronext Paris due to adverse equity market conditions. As a result, all subscriptions made both as a part of the global offering and the French retail offering are no longer valid. Ethypharm, a drug delivery company, announced its intent to raise EUR160 million (US$135.5 million) in June.
¿ Evolutec Ltd., of Oxford, UK, entered a deal with an up-front payment of #500,000 (US$703,000), with the Doctors Healthcare Company plc, the largest private clinical diagnostic laboratory in the UK, to develop EV 131 for the treatment of allergy. Evolutec is focused on the development of proteins secreted by parasitic organisms to prevent the host¿s immune system from reacting to their presence. EV 131, a major component of the saliva of feeding ticks, binds very tightly to histamine and blocks mast cell degranulation, thus limiting inflammation. The compound has completed preclinical development, and will enter a Phase I trial in allergic conjunctivitis in 2002. Doctors Healthcare will fund the cost of clinical development and will make milestone payments to Evolutec. Both partners will share revenues from any products.
¿ GeneScan Europe AG, of Freiburg, Germany, officially opened its Hong Kong subsidiary, GeneScan Hong Kong Ltd. GeneScan said that since China is expected to adopt international standards in food industries when it joins the World Trade Organization, it projects a growing need for analyses related to genetically modified food and ingredients.
¿ MorphoSys AG, of Martinsried, Germany, reached the second milestone in its collaboration with DuPont Pharmaceuticals, of Wilmington, Del. The milestone is related to the successful generation of antibodies against target molecules by DuPont using MorphoSys¿ proprietary robotic system AutoCAL. MorphoSys said it will receive a milestone payment in an undisclosed amount.
¿ GPC Biotech AG, of Martinsried, Germany, said it achieved a milestone by delivering seven targets in its antimicrobial alliance to
Byk Gulden Lomberg GmbH, of Constance, Germany. GPC Biotech identified and validated those targets by using its integrated genomics and proteomics technology platform in conjunction with complementary validation technologies at Byk Gulden. A selection of these validated targets will be moved into high-throughput screening by Byk Gulden to identify compounds for the treatment ofHelicobacter pyloriinfections, which cause stomach ulcers. It¿s the third milestone GPC reached in this potential $30 million collaboration, which started in 1998. The milestone amount was not disclosed. Byk is the pharmaceuticals group of Altana AG, of Bad Homburg, Germany.
¿ Micromet AG, of Martinsried, Germany, extends its supervisory board, appointing Jerry Benjamin a new member. He is director of Advent Venture Partners, of London. Current board member Erich Platzer will take over the role of chairman.
¿ Ribopharma AG, of Bayreuth, Germany, and november AG, of Erlangen, Germany, formed an alliance on selective blocking of disease-related genes. Ribopharma will contribute its interference-RNA platform, which cleaves transcripts of certain genes specifically, Ribopharma CEO Stefan Limmer said, adding that the platform has shown to be effective in cell cultures. In vivo experiments are planned. November will provide vectors made of recombinant polyoma virus capsoids to transfer interference-RNA into cells.
¿ Scotia Holdings plc, of Stirling, Scotland, won marketing approval in Europe for Foscan, its photodynamic therapy for head and neck cancer, reversing the previous decision made in January. That refusal forced Scotia to apply for an administration order to enable the company to carry on trading and eke out its resources until it could submit an appeal. Tom Burton, a partner at Ernst & Young and joint administrator of Scotia, said, ¿The approval justifies the faith shown in Foscan by Scotia and its employees and improves the potential outcome for the creditors significantly.¿ The company also is appealing a decision by the FDA not to approve the drug. The approval by the European Medicines Evaluation Agency opens the way for the administrators to agree to a marketing deal that could rescue Scotia, the first UK biotech to go into administration. The company has just over #6 million cash (US$8.43 million).
¿ SR Pharma, of London, announced results of a 60-patient Phase II trial of SRL 172 monotherapy in renal cell cancer, showing a statistically significant improvement in survival. The 60 patients were compared to historical controls, and the results showed those receiving a monthly injection of SRL 172 following surgery to remove the affected kidney had a mean survival time of 403 days, compared to 218 days for patients who received chemotherapy after surgery and 368 days for those receiving interleukin-2 or interferon-alpha. SRL 172, an immune potentiator, recently failed a Phase III trial in lung cancer, and the company said it will now consider whether to take it forward in renal cancer following an internal review of its use in cancer as a whole.
¿ Vernalis Group plc, of Winnersh, UK, agreed to a research collaboration with Alcon, a leading U.S. eye-care company, to explore novel approaches to treating glaucoma. The research will focus on assessing compounds from Vernalis¿ portfolio that work on the receptors controlling pressure within the eye. It is expected that a broader R&D agreement will then be set up, based on any molecules that show promise in the initial screening program. No financial terms were disclosed.