¿ BioFocus plc, of Sittingbourne, Kent, has agreed on a two-year drug discovery collaboration with Pharmacia & Upjohn, of Kalamazoo, Mich., which will give the pharmaceutical company access to Biofocus' lead optimization and combinatorial and computational chemistry technologies. As part of the deal, Pharmacia & Upjohn will support development of Biofocus' proprietary informatics system, Predictive Array Design, for the design of smaller, more efficient chemical libraries; and Pharmascape, a toolbox for focused lead discovery libraries and lead optimization. Financial details were not disclosed.

¿ Cortecs plc, of London, said acting CEO Phil Gould will take the post permanently, following the departure of the previous acting CEO, Michael Flynn, at the beginning of December 1998. Gould joined the company as director of research and development in January 1998, from London-based Glaxo Wellcome plc. He is currently tackling a restructuring of the company, cutting back on research programs and uniting activities at one site.

¿ Oxford Biomedica plc, of Oxford, U.K., a gene therapy company, disclosed positive preclinical data for its gene-based tumor vaccine product, TroVaX, and said the company is in discussions with four other firms regarding potential collaborations. The product makes use of a tumor-associated antigen to stimulate the body's immune system to destroy cancer cells. Oxford Biomedica said TroVaX has been shown to protect mice from both primary and secondary tumors. The key to the technology is selecting the appropriate tumor antigen and presenting it to the immune system in the optimal way.

¿ Prolifix Ltd., of Abingdon, Oxfordshire, has been granted a U.S. patent covering broad claims to DP1, a transcription factor involved in the control of cell proliferation. DP1 is a component of E2F, a protein which is essential for the normal progression of the cell cycle. When regulation of E2F goes wrong, it can result in uncontrolled cell proliferation, leading to cancer. Prolifix has developed screens to detect small molecules that interfere with the interaction of DP1 and E2F as part of its drug discovery collaboration with Chugai Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., of Tokyo.

¿ Quadrant Healthcare plc, of Cambridge, U.K., is divesting the diagnostic imaging products and technology developed by Nottingham-based Andaris Ltd., the company acquired by Quadrant in 1998, because the technology does not fit Quadrant's core drug delivery business. The lead imaging products - Quantison, in Phase II trials, and Myomap, in preclinical development - are designed to act as echo contrast agents, improving the quality of ultrasound images. They are being developed for the diagnosis of cardiovascular disease. During 1998, Andaris entered a U.S. distribution agreement with Advanced Magnetics Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., for Quantison. In view of the proposed divestment, this agreement has been terminated.