BORNHEIM, Germany - Evax Technologies said it acquired Immune Complex Corp., of San Diego. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Evax, of Martinsried, will change its name to Apovia AG, and ICC will become Apovia Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary. Headquarters of privately held Apovia will be in Martinsried, said Evax CEO Martin Steiner.

"The deal is an all-share transfer," Steiner told BioWorld International."

"We have been looking for an opportunity, broadening Evax's technology base in vaccine research. We succeeded and got a broadly applicable technology platform and a lead product." Steiner said. "This lead product is MalariVax, a potential antimalaria vaccine. It is scheduled to enter Phase I clinical trials in 2001."

The vaccine was developed using ICC's proprietary technology, CorVax, which consists of viral particles carrying foreign pathogens' epitopes, Steiner said.

Evax to date focused on developing potential antibacterial vaccines based on its proprietary "bacterial ghost" technology. "Our goal is vaccination with empty envelopes of bacteria," Steiner said. "Our patented approach is bringing a gene for cell lysis into Gram-negative bacteria. Expression of the gene makes leakage in their envelopes and they run empty. It is a soft way of inactivating pathogens and keeping antigens staying native. This should give a good immune response."

Evax has research programs on vaccines against Helicobacter pylori (playing a decisive role in gastric ulcers), non-typable Hemophilus (responsible for 25 percent of otitis media cases in children), and Neisseria menigitidis, serotype B (causing meningitis), Steiner said.

"With the combination of our two vaccine-focused technology platforms, Apovia is now positioned to address a broad range of infectious diseases caused by viruses, bacteria and parasites," George Thornton, CEO of ICC, said in a prepared statement. Thornton will assume the post of managing director at Apovia Inc. and be responsible for all R&D activity of Apovia.

Evax had its latest, second-financing round in October 1999, raising DM 16 million (US$7.3 million), Steiner said. Investors were 3i, of London; Technologieholding, Global Life Science Holding, and Bayern Kapital, all of Munich; Bayer Innovation, of Leverkusen, Germany; Oxford Bioscience Partners, of Boston; and tbg, of Bonn, Germany.

Evax was founded in 1997, ICC in 1994. The combined company will have 36 employees.