¿ Bavarian Nordic Research Institute A/S, of Copenhagen, Denmark, said it received permission from the Italian health authorities to commence Phase I/II clinical trials of its ex vivo immunotherapy treatment for metastatic malignant melanoma. The therapy is based on the company's MVA-F6 vector, which overexpresses tyrosinase, a key enzyme involved in the production of the skin pigment melanin and a potent melanoma tumor antigen. Alessandro Gianni, at the Instituto dei Tumori in Milan, will lead the study. Bavarian Nordic said it expects to obtain the results before the end of the year.
¿ CeNeS Pharmaceuticals plc, of Cambridge, UK, received a UK license for Moraxen, its controlled-release formulation of morphine, in the management of cancer pain. The company's marketing partner, Schwartz Pharma plc, is scheduled to launch the product in the UK later this year. The product was acquired when CeNeS took over the drug delivery company Core Group plc in 1999. The first of CeNeS' products to reach the market, Moraxen will be manufactured at the former Core facility in Irvine, Scotland. CeNeS is now looking for marketing partners for the U.S. and Japan, and says its income from Moraxen will reach #10 million per annum.
¿ Evotec BioSystems AG, of Hamburg, Germany, said it paid DM5 million ($US2.4 million) for Genion Forschungsgesellschaft mbH, also of Hamburg, a specialist in the area of ion, particularly potassium, channel assays. Genion achieved sales last year of DM1.3 million and positive net income. Evotec said it expects this revenue to grow significantly because of the increasing importance of ion channel assays and because of synergies with its existing drug discovery services business.
¿ Gemini Genomics plc, of Cambridge, UK, has chosen Nasdaq for its initial public offering. The company is aiming to raise between $72 million and $84 million with the offering of 12 million shares.
¿ Genset SA, of Paris, has completed the private placement of convertible bonds launched on June 7 (see BioWorld International, June 14, 2000, p. 6). Taking account of the overallotment option taken up in full by SG Cowen, the investment bank that handled the issue, the operation netted the Paris-based genomics company EUR55.6 million (US$52.4 million). The nominal price of the zero-coupon bonds, EUR94, represented a 17.5 percent premium over Genset's share price at the time of the pricing. The three-and-a-half-year bonds were issued at par and the annual gross yield to maturity is 4.5 percent. They are exchangeable for one new or existing Genset share, and the company may bring forward conversion into common stock to any time prior to maturity.
¿ Transghne, of Strasbourg, France, was granted a European patent covering the use of a new non-viral gene delivery system based on a cationic lipid called pcTG90. The patent, No. 901,463, is titled "Glycerolipid compounds useful for transferring active substances into target cells.'' pcTG90 is combined with DNA in plasmid form for transporting therapeutic genes into the cells of target organs. Transghne claims that the synthetic vector is not only efficient and easy to use, but also carries less risk of provoking an immune system reaction than viral vectors. This means that it can be administered repeatedly and that the period of expression of the therapeutic gene in the targeted cells is extended. Transghne plans to take therapies based on this vector into clinical development, with a particular emphasis on the treatment of cancer.