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News Briefs: Nov 12, 2008

Celldex Therapeutics Licenses Anti-Cancer Antibodies from University of Southampton
Celldex Therapeutics announced this week that it has exclusively licensed patents and know-how from the University of Southampton, UK, to develop human antibodies towards CD27, a potentially important target for immunotherapy of various cancers.
In pre-clinical models, antibodies to CD27 have been shown to mediate anti-tumor effects alone, and may be particularly effective in combination with other immunotherapies, Celldex said.
“CD27 is a critical molecule in the activation pathway of lymphocytes,” Tibor Keler, chief scientific officer for Celldex, said in a statement. “We have tremendous antibody development and translational expertise … and we are excited to add this therapeutic antibody target to our portfolio.”
Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Helion Biotech Nets Funding to Develop Anti-Infective for Cancer Patients
Helion Biotech, a spinout of Aarhus University in Denmark, said this week that it has received and undisclosed amount of funding from Danish life science investor group SEED Capital Denmark.
The proceeds will be used to further develop Helion’s lead project, recombinant human protein MASP-2, which is in pre-clinical development.
Many patients with suppressed immune systems, such as cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, currently receive G-CSF, which limits the window of susceptibility to infections. MASP-2 replacement therapy would provide an additional targeted therapeutic alternative or supplement to prevent or treat infections in patients deficient in MASP-2, Helion said.
SEED Capital Denmark was formed in 2004 and manages direct investments totaling more than €130 million ($162 million). The company’s investment focus is predominantly on early-phase, technology-based life science, IT, communications, and cleantech projects and companies.

Hebrew U’s Yissum Licenses Inflammatory Disease Rx Tech to BioLineRx
Yissum, the technology transfer company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has granted a worldwide exclusive license to BioLineRx to develop and commercialize BL-5040, a new anti-hormone for the treatment of inflammatory diseases.
Rights to the compound were also obtained from Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, Yissum said.
BL-5040 uses a mutated version of leptin acting as an antagonist with anti-inflammatory properties. Leptin is a hormone that has an important role in regulating inflammation immunity and appetite control. BioLineRx will develop BL-5040 to treat inflammatory bowel diseases such as colitis and Crohn's disease.
Financial terms of the license were not disclosed.

Santarus, U of Missouri Win Markman Hearing in IP-Infringement Spat with Par Pharmaceuticals
Santarus said last week that the US District Court for the District of Delaware has ruled in favor of Santarus and the University of Missouri in a Markman hearing held Nov. 5, 2008, involving Par Pharmaceutical.
Markman hearings, also known as claim construction hearings, are held to resolve any disputes concerning the meaning of asserted patent claims prior to trial.
According to Santarus, Par Pharmaceutical had disputed the meaning of some but not all of the patent claims asserted by Santarus as part of lawsuits Santarus filed against Par in the Delaware District Court for allegedly infringing patents related to Zegerid capsules and powder for oral suspension.
The University of Missouri, which licensed the patents to Santarus, is a co-plaintiff in the litigation.
Santarus and the UM are asserting infringement by Par of five issued patents covering orally delivered Zegerid, a treatment for acid reflux, because of Par's intent to market generic versions of the products prior to the July 2016 expiration of the asserted patents.
The trial is currently scheduled for July 2009.

E-IP Acquires IP-Listing Business from Belgium’s BirchBob
Online patent repository firm e-IP said last week that it has acquired BirchBob International’s IP listing business, for an undisclosed amount.
BirchBob, based in La Hulpe, Belgium, is a private company that serves both technology providers and seekers.
Founded in 2003, it has built an online network of technology providers worldwide, and provides a search engine of technology licensing opportunities from academia, government, and industry.
The BirchBob search system uses a cross-industry XML standard in combination with keywords and concept relations, the company said.

Stem Cell Sciences to Standardize CHDI Mouse eSC Lines for Huntington’s Drug Discovery
Stem Cell Sciences said this week that it has entered into an agreement with CHDI Foundation to support the standardization of CHDI's novel mouse embryonic stem cell lines.
CHDI is a US-based non-profit organization pursuing treatments for Huntington's disease. Its cell lines have been produced over a period of several years under varying conditions, and conversion to a standard methodology is expected to facilitate their use in HD-related research towards the development of new HD drugs and diagnostics, SCS said.
Under the agreement, SCS, based in Cambridge, UK, will create standard culture conditions for CHDI's mouse ES cell lines using its serum-free and feeder-free ESGRO Complete media. Initially, SCS will convert three cell lines to the standardized culture conditions and will monitor their viability and stability during this process.
If successful, SCS may have the opportunity to apply its proprietary technologies across the entire range of CHDI's mouse ES cell lines, as well as provide the foundation and researchers with media and reagents for future programs.
Financial terms of the agreement have not been disclosed.

The Scan

Study Tracks Responses in Patients Pursuing Polygenic Risk Score Profiling

Using interviews, researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics qualitatively assess individuals' motivations for, and experiences with, direct-to-consumer polygenic risk score testing.

EHR Quality Improvement Study Detects Demographic-Related Deficiencies in Cancer Family History Data

In a retrospective analysis in JAMA Network Open, researchers find that sex, ethnicity, language, and other features coincide with the quality of cancer family history information in a patient's record.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease Linked to Gut Microbiome Community Structure Gradient in Meta-Analysis

Bringing together data from prior studies, researchers in Genome Biology track down microbial taxa and a population structure gradient with ties to ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease.

Ancient Greek Army Ancestry Highlights Mercenary Role in Historical Migrations

By profiling genomic patterns in 5th century samples from in and around Himera, researchers saw diverse ancestry in Greek army representatives in the region, as they report in PNAS.