¿ DeveloGen AG, of Goettingen, Germany, said it completed its merger with Berlin-based HepaVec AG. The deal is the first merger between two German biotechnology companies and brings together DeveloGen's rapid gene discovery and functional genomics platform with HepaVec's novel vector and gene delivery technology. The combined entity has adopted the DeveloGen name, but it will operate in two locations.

¿ IstoTis NV, of Bilthoven, the Netherlands, raised EUR73 million (US$63.4 million) after expenses in its IPO on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange. This gives the company, which specializes in tissue engineering, a market capitalization of EUR200 million. Trading in the shares began Friday. Clemens van Blitterswijk, president and CEO, said, "The interest which we have received from both Dutch and international investors demonstrates the strength of our story and provides a very solid platform for future growth."

¿ PPL Therapeutics, of Edinburgh, Scotland won an $1.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce to fund research into the production of mammalian pluripotent stem cells without using embryo or fetal materials. The company already has filed a patent application on a method of deriving unlimited stem cells without using an embryo. The research funded by the grant will be focused on the production and differentiation of stem cells from non-human primates and livestock species. PPL said this will provide the groundwork for human stem cell production, both for autologous and non-autologous medical applications. The company said its approach could make stem cell therapy more ethically acceptable.

¿ Transghne, of Strasbourg, France, was granted patents in both Europe and the U.S. for a method of preparing viral vectors through homologous intermolecular recombination. The patents describe the separate construction of the viral vector in a bacterial system (E. coli) and its production in the appropriate human complementation cell line. The fact that the complete viral genome is quickly assembled in the host prokaryote means that the whole process of producing and isolating the vector takes no more than a month, whereas traditional methods take several months.

¿ Trinity Biotech plc, of Bray, Ireland, said it paid US$1.3 million for a 33.3 percent stake in another Irish firm, HiberGen Ltd., an early stage genomics company based in Cork. It has further options to increase its stake to 49 percent, for US$950,000, and to 66 percent within the next 10 to 18 months, at a price to be determined by the achievement of certain milestones. HiberGen has programs in rheumatoid arthritis, diabetic nephropathy and pre-eclampsia and has exclusive access to a patented platform technology for discovering disease targets based on single nucleotide polymorphisms. The deal also gives Trinity Biotech worldwide exclusivity to HiberGen's GMA amplification technology for human pathogen detection.