Autogen Ltd., of Geelong, Australia, said it discovered five new genes involved in obesity and diabetes. The company, which specializes in tracking genes in isolated populations, has filed patent applications for the genes. The company has a strategic alliance with Lipha SA, a wholly owned subsidiary of Merck KgaA, of Darmstadt, Germany.

CeNeS Pharmaceuticals plc, of Cambridge, UK, agreed to develop a slow-release formulation of an unnamed protein drug for Cangene Corp., of Winnipeg, Manitoba. CeNeS will apply its Depocore technology to reduce 30-fold the frequency with which the Cangene drug must be injected. Depocore can provide sustained release of a drug for up to one month. CeNeS receives an initial fee, will manufacture the product and will receive royalties. This is CeNeS' fourth agreement to develop Depocore formulations of protein drugs.

Cerep SA, of Paris, signed a three-year drug discovery agreement with F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd., of Basel, Switzerland. The deal calls for Cerep to use its proprietary technology in the areas of high-throughput screening, pharmacological and pharmaceutical profiling, and classic pharmacology to identify and select drug candidates emanating from the laboratories of Roche. The financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Evotec OAI, of Hamburg, Germany, won a contract to supply chemical libraries to Solvay Pharmaceuticals, of Weesp, the Netherlands. Evotec OAI chemists will synthesize compounds over a period of two years. Solvay will use discrete compounds synthesized by dedicated Evotec chemists in its drug discovery programs. Milestones will be payable to Evotec if any compound enters Phase III clinical trials and/or is commercialized, Evotec stated in a press release.

Genzyme General, of Cambridge, Mass., will invest £55 million (US$80 million) in its UK facility, enabling it to expand production of Renagel, its treatment for dialysis patients. The funding - the largest investment by Genzyme outside the U.S. - will allow the facility at Haverhill, Suffolk, to increase output of Sevelamer, the raw material used to make Renagel, by 10-fold. Sales of Renagel in 2000 were US$56 million, up from $20 million in 1999.

IsoTis NV, of Bilthoven, the Netherlands, said it has extended its collaboration on tissue-engineered cartilage with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and has been granted exclusive rights to MIT patents in this field. IsoTis plans to launch its first-generation tissue-engineered cartilage product later in 2001. The company also said it has been granted four U.S. patents on its biomimetic calcium phosphate technology for coating prostheses.

MorphoSys AG, of Martinsried, Germany, has reached the first milestone in its collaboration with Bayer AG, of Leverkusen, Germany. MorphoSys generated a high-affinity synthetic antibody against a drug target provided by Bayer. In addition, Bayer exercised an option for the development of an additional antibody against another target molecule, triggering further payment. Details on the target and financial terms were not disclosed.

SR Pharma plc, of London, said the Phase I trial of Avac, an intranasally administered treatment for asthma, will be extended from 20 to 40 patients. Avac is being developed in collaboration with Genesis Research and Development Corp., of New Zealand, which commenced the double-blind placebo-controlled trial in August. The extension was approved because no side effects have occurred in any patients.