¿ Oxford BioMedica, of Oxford, England, said it has received a notice of allowance from the U.S. Patent Office for a patent covering broad aspects of retroviral and lentiviral vector systems. The technology covered is used to create hybrid viruses. The company also released financial results for the year ended Dec. 31 showing a loss of #4.2 million (US$6.6 million), up from #3.7 million in 1998. Turnover was #436,000. It had #3 million cash. This was supplemented by a rights issue in January which raised #5 million. Oxford BioMedica plans to move up from the junior AIM market to a full listing on the London Stock Exchange later this year.

¿ PPL Therapeutics plc, of Edinburgh, Scotland, says it has secured #42 million (US$66.2 million) funding to build a production facility in Scotland for purifying large-scale quantities of transgenically produced alpha-1-antitrypsin (AAT) for treating cystic fibrosis. The funding package, which includes significant public money, is yet to be formally approved by the government, and is also conditional on PPL finding a marketing partner for AAT. However, the announcement removes the possibility that PPL could shift manufacturing to the U.S. Ron James, managing director, said the package delivered on the promise to build the plant without asking existing shareholders to fund it.

¿ Southern BioVentures, a biotechnology mentoring and incubation organization, was launched to support the creation of companies in southeast England, including London. The government-funded body will provide fast access to specialist advice and practical help to accelerate company development.

¿ MorphoSys AG, a Martinsried, Germany, a combinatorial antibody company, opened a U.S. subsidiary in Charlotte, N.C. MorphoSys U.S. Inc. will be headed by Daniel L. Menichella, formerly vice president of business development with Novartis Animal Health.