¿ Gemini Genomics plc, of Cambridge, England, has identified more than 70 proteins associated with the development of major chronic diseases, including osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis, obesity and diabetes by comparing blood samples from identical twins, only one of whom had the disease. The proteins were discovered as part of the alliance with the proteomics specialist Large Scale Biology Corp., of Vacaville, Calif., set up in February 1999. CEO Paul Kelly said, "Secreted proteins are the basis of major and growing therapeutic and diagnostic markets and these discoveries place Gemini firmly at the forefront of efforts in target discovery and validation."
¿ Isotis NV, of Bilthoven, the Netherlands, said its Amsterdam stock exchange IPO of 9.5 million new shares will be priced at between EUR9 and EUR11 per share. This equates to an offer size of more than EUR80 million (US$70.4 million), and will give the company, a specialist in tissue engineering, a market capitalization of approximately EUR200 million.
¿ Microscience Ltd., of Wokingham, Berkshire, received a further #3 million (US$4.4 million) in venture funding from Merlin Biosciences Fund. This follows seed funding from Merlin in 1997 and a first-round funding of #9 million in 1999 from Merlin and Apax Partners.
¿ MorphoSys AG, of Munich, Germany, and GPC Biotech AG, of Frankfurt, Germany, said they passed the first milestone in the immunology component of their two-leg collaboration, triggering a payment to MorphoSys. MorphoSys has increased by 100-fold the affinity of antibodies generated against a GPC major histocompatibility complex Class II target, thereby inhibiting T-cell activation in preclinical assays. The antibodies, which are being developed for transplant rejection and graft-vs.-host disease, now move into the next phase of preclinical development. The agreement, which the companies signed in April 1999, also includes a cancer program.
¿ PPL Therapeutics plc, of Edinburgh, Scotland, announced positive results in its one-year safety study for alpha-1-antitrypsin (AAT) in cystic fibrosis. The study supported the results of the six-month study, showing PPL's nebulized transgenic AAT reduced the frequency of exacerbations by up to 50 percent. The rate of exacerbations was lower in the second six months than the first, suggesting a further benefit of prolonged therapy. Patients receiving 250 mg of AAT per day had stable lung function throughout the year. Last month PPL announced a collaboration with Bayer for the commercialization of transgenic AAT. Phase III trials are due to start before the end of 2000 in patients with congenital AAT deficiency.
¿ Prolifix Ltd., of Abingdon, Oxfordshire, has agreed a three-year collaboration with Novuspharma SpA, a Monza, Italy, company specializing in oncology. They plan to co-develop a series of patented Prolifix angiogenesis inhibitors, currently at lead-optimization stage, through early clinical development. Novuspharma was founded in January 1999 following the closure of Boehringer Mannheim's Oncology R&D facility after Boehringer was acquired by Hoffmann-La Roche.