Co.don AG, of Teltow, Germany, said Chief Financial Officer Reto Welte joined the company's board of directors. Before joining tissue-engineering specialist co.don last May, Welte was managing director with Alstom's and Unilever's Swiss branches.

Genetix Group plc, of New Milton, UK, which specializes in genomics and proteomics equipment, licensed a reagent for detecting mutations linked to hereditary disease from the University of Nottingham. The DNA-based reagent makes it possible to study mutations in hereditary disease such as muscular dystrophy and certain mental disabilities, which are caused by rearrangements or deletions of genes.

Genset SA, of Paris, appointed Denis Ravel as director of pharmaceutical development. The recruitment of Ravel, previously a department head within the metabolic diseases division of the French pharmaceutical company Laboratoires Servier, is further confirmation of Genset's new strategy of focusing on drug development, with particular emphasis on metabolic diseases. In addition, Genset strengthened its metabolic disorders research center in San Diego through two senior appointments. Nancy Sipes was brought in as director of molecular and cellular biology, and Omid Vafa, a former researcher at the Salk Institute, joined Genset's metabolic disorders research group as senior researcher in molecular biology. At the same time, Joachim Fruebis, director of Genset's physiology department, has taken charge of all physiology research and development activities.

GPC Biotech AG, of Martinsried, Germany, achieved two milestones in its antimicrobial alliance with the pharmaceutical company Byk Gulden GmbH, of Constance, Germany. The alliance relates to prioritizing Byk Gulden's antibacterial lead candidates for the treatment of Helicobacter pylori infections. The achievement of the two milestones triggers undisclosed milestone payments from Byk Gulden to GPC.

MediGene AG, of Martinsried, Germany, and Evotec BioSystems AG, of Hamburg, Germany, are collaborating to identify novel drugs for the treatment of cardiac diseases. Applying its chemistry expertise, compound library and proprietary EVOscreen screening-technology, Evotec will search for therapeutic molecules relating to a certain target identified by MediGene. The agreement contains an option for the inclusion of up to four more targets. MediGene will keep all rights to the targets and will receive all rights to the identified therapeutic substances. In addition to fixed payment for services, Evotec will receive success-dependent milestone payments and royalties. Further financial details were not disclosed.

MorphoSys GmbH, of Munich, Germany, and Cambridge Antibody Technology Group plc (CAT), of Royston, UK, said that a jury in the District Court of Washington, D.C., was unable to reach a decision in the patent action brought by MorphoSys. It was seeking a declaration that CAT's "Griffiths" patent relating to methods of isolating specific antibodies to human antigens from phage display libraries and to antibodies produced by these methods is invalid and/or that MorphoSys does not infringe the patent. However, the jury did agree that CAT is entitled to the priority dates of its UK patent application. Post-trial motions are being filed, but if the court cannot agree the case will have to be retried. Litigation is pending in the same court in respect to CAT's "McCafferty" patent, with a trial date of April 2002.

Prolifix Ltd., of Abingdon, UK, said its researchers have discovered that the interaction of two cell proteins, Myc and Miz-1, is central to the uncontrolled cell division associated with a variety of tumors. When Miz-1 and Myc fail to bind, or if Myc is absent from the cell, Miz-1 initiates a process that arrests cell growth and induces senescence. If Miz-1 and Myc interact, this process is blocked, leading to uncontrolled cell division. Myc is a human oncogene associated with a variety of cancers. The company said the finding helps the understanding of how cells become malignant and will be important for its oncology discovery program.

SkyePharma plc, of London, was granted pan-European marketing approval for DepoCyte for the treatment of lymphomatous meningitis by the European Committee on Proprietary Medicinal Products. The company is currently seeking a marketing partner for the drug, an injectable, sustained-release form of the chemotherapeutic cytarabine. DepoCyte already is approved in the U.S., where it has been licensed to Chiron Corp., of Emeryville, Calif.

SR Pharma plc, of London, formed a 50-50 joint venture with Rademacher Group Ltd., of Oxford, UK, to investigate bacterial inosital phosphoglycans (IPGs), cellular messenger molecules that mediate the action of certain hormones and growth factors. SR Pharma, which specializes in using mycobacteria to elicit immune responses, has discovered IPG-like molecules in mycobacteria, while Rademacher specializes in phosphoglycans and has developed novel libraries of IPG mimetics. A key patent relating to IPGs and hormone and growth factor mimetics has been assigned to the joint venture by University College London. IPGs may have applications in a range of diseases including cancer and allergies and in speeding up wound healing. SR Pharma was due to release results of the Phase III trial of its lead compound, SRL 172, in lung cancer, on Monday, but said the results will be published later this month.

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