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Life sciences news briefs from Industry Canada (March 12, 2003)


Ottawa, ON March 12, 2003 The following life sciences news briefs were recently published by the Life Sciences Branch of Industry Canada.

1) PHARMACEUTICALS UPDATE

MDS Pharma Services Expands Ligand Binding Capabilities
MDS Pharma Services (Montreal), a premier provider of innovative drug discovery and development solutions, has announced plans to more than double its ligand binding capabilities at its bioanalysis facility in Lincoln, Nebraska, USA, announced Gilbert Godin, president, Early Clinical Research and Bioanalysis. He said the expansion was prompted by the fact that more biologically based drugs are coming through the drug development pipeline which best utilize a portfolio of ligand binding based assays to speed product development.

Affinium Announces Strategic Alliance with Albany Molecular Research
Affinium Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Toronto), a leader in structure guided drug discovery, announced a strategic alliance with Albany Molecular Research, Inc. (Nasdaq: AMRI), a leading research, drug discovery and development company. Albany will provide chemistry-based drug discovery expertise to augment Affinium’s internal chemistry programs in anti-infectives. The alliance will focus on Affinium’s anti-infective compounds having preclinical in vivo data. AMRI will receive fees based on the number of scientists in their chemistry team working on Affinium projects. In addition, AMRI may receive success fees for meeting certain development milestones on new compounds and downstream revenues for certain commercial products. Other terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Affinium Acquires Novel Antibacterial Program from GlaxoSmithKline
Affinium Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Toronto), a leader in structure guided drug discovery, announced an investment agreement under which Affinium will acquire worldwide discovery, development, marketing and distribution rights to compounds that were generated from a GSK antibacterial research program. GSK will receive a significant equity position in Affinium. Other terms of the agreement were not disclosed. The acquisition includes late-stage leads and intellectual property on high resolution target structures for a novel target, and multiple series of compounds resulting from lead optimization. These novel inhibitors have the potential to be useful in the treatment of serious staphylococcal infections, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococci infections. Existing compounds have demonstrated excellent antibacterial activity and in vivo efficacy in animal models.

2) DIAGNOSTICS AND THERAPEUTICS UPDATE

Skin Whitening Patent is Issued to Fytokem
Fytokem Products Inc. (Saskatoon), a producer of Function-Certified(TM) plant-based ingredients, today announced that the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has issued a patent on the use of its Tyrostat(TM) line of products for the inhibition of the tyrosinase enzyme. This enzyme is a key enzyme involved in the control of pigmentation of skin. A product able to inhibit production of the tyrosinase enzyme will provide skin whitening ability. The skin whitening market worldwide is a multi-billion dollar venture with the greatest potential in Asia. This regional market continues to be anchored by Japan with the fast emerging China market growing at an unprecedented rate. The market in Japan was estimated to be US$ 5.6 Billion in 2001 where over 25% of all personal care products contain skin-whitening actives. The greatest growth potential lies in China where the market is estimated at over $1.3 Billion. The market in North America is focused on the lightening of age and liver spots.

AEterna’s Subsidiary Starts Distribution of Impavido(R) in India
AEterna Laboratories Inc. (Quebec City) announced at the BIO CEO & Investor Conference that its wholly owned company, Zentaris AG, has signed an exclusive distribution and marketing agreement with German Remedies Limited for the marketing of Impavido(R) (Miltefosine) in India and Bangladesh. It is the beginning of global marketing of Miltefosine, which will be available, as early as possible, in all countries burdened with leishmaniasis disease. The contract foresees that German Remedies will market the product in the private sectors of India. In addition, German Remedies will distribute the product in Bangladesh upon registration. Both of these countries are suffering the most from the deadly visceral leishmaniasis.

3) MEDICAL DEVICES UPDATE

Development of the VScan(TM) Rapid Test Kit for West Nile Virus
Medical Services International Inc. (Edmonton) announced that it had (through a related subsidiary) been granted a worldwide license by the United States Public Health Service for use of its reagents in a Rapid Diagnostic Test Kit for the West Nile Virus. Testing completed to date indicates that the company will have the finished test kit for the rapid diagnosis of the West Nile Virus available by the end of March 2003, subject to regulatory approval. The reagents (highly specific recombinant antigens) combined with the existing and proven immunoassay technology, which forms the basis of the company’s entire line of VScan(TM) Diagnostic Test Kits (for HIV 1& HIV 2, Hepatitis B & C, and Tuberculosis) is the underlying test principle of the West Nile test kit. This immunoassay technology has demonstrated an accuracy of 99.8% (VScan(TM) Serum HIV test kit). It is expected that the West Nile test kit will reach the same level of accuracy as the other VScan(TM) Test Kits.

Angiotech Forms Alliance with Baxter for CoSeal(R) Adhibit(TM)
Angiotech Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Vancouver) announced that it has entered into an agreement with Baxter Healthcare Corporation to create a strategic alliance, entitling Baxter to worldwide (excluding Japan and certain other territories) sales, marketing and distribution rights for the surgical sealant product CoSeal(R) and the surgical anti-adhesive product Adhibit(TM). The parties have entered into an interim agreement, whereby Baxter will immediately initiate sales and distribution of CoSeal(R). The parties will negotiate further agreements to support the strategic alliance. Angiotech anticipates that the alliance transaction would include an upfront fee of C$12 million and further payments up to C$22 million, and, in addition, a payment of revenue on sales of these products at a percentage in the low double digits. CoSeal(R) has been sold in the United States since February of 2002. It received a CE mark for sale in the European Community in February of 2000 and FDA approval for cardiovascular indications in December 2001. Last week, Angiotech enrolled its first patient in a pulmonary sealant trial in Europe. A positive outcome will permit a European label expansion, allowing CoSeal(R) to be used in pulmonary surgery for the prevention of air leaks.

VSM MedTech to Receive Second Key US Patent for CNIBP Technology
VSM MedTech Ltd. (Vancouver) announced that it has received notification that another key patent application for the company’s continuous non-invasive blood pressure (CNIBP) monitoring technology has been allowed by the US Patent and Trademark Office. The patent, entitled “Continuous non-invasive blood pressure monitoring method and apparatus”, protects the core intellectual property of the technology. In all, 63 patent claims were allowed including ones for the computational methods and calibration techniques, the sensor setup, and the fundamental hardware and software components central to the CNIBP technology. The patent is expected to be issued within 60 days.

4) GENOMICS UPDATE

Galileo Genomics Secures C$7.7 million of Capital
Galileo Genomics Inc. (Montreal), a leading, Montreal based population genetics company, announced that it has recently closed two financings totaling $7.7 million. The private placement of equity financing was funded by venture capital investors, namely HBM Bioventures (Zurich), Investissement Desjardins (Montreal), BTF (Amsterdam), MVI (London) and BioFund (Helsinki) as well as othe
r investors. Galileo also closed a capital equipment-based financing with MM Venture Partners for up to $2 million US. Galileo’s proprietary platform is designed for the identification of genes associated with common and economically important diseases and the rapid production of high quality targets for drug development and diagnostic products. By identifying genes and understanding their biological function, the company expects to discover the causes of many common diseases that arise from genetic variations. Galileo’s research relies on the study of genetic data collected from the Quebec founder population and advanced genetic algorithms for gene localization. The company is building one of the world’s leading DNA databanks.

5) INDUSTRY BRIEFS

Axcan Pharma Inc. (Mont Saint Hilaire) announced that it intends to raise approximately US$100 million through an offering of convertible notes due 2008. MedMira Inc. (Halifax) announced the appointment (subject to the approval of the TSX Venture Exchange) of Mr. William Gullage, C.A. to the position of Chief Financial Officer. EPocrates (Toronto), a leading provider of clinical information at the point-of-care, and Techneos Systems, a developer of mobile survey software, are collaborating to bring the power of point-of-experience data collection to the healthcare market research arena. Chromos Molecular Systems Inc. (Burnaby) announced the expansion of protection of its artificial chromosome technology with the issuance of 4 additional patents. Chromos was awarded two patents from New Zealand, one from Japan, and one from Canada, relating to its chromosome-based gene delivery and expression technology, the ACE System. ID Biomedical (Vancouver) announced that it has hired a team of senior manufacturing and quality assurance/quality control employees. These new hires were recruited to help the company transition to the late stage, large scale clinical trials required for the eventual commercialization of ID Biomedical’s products. To achieve these objectives, ID Biomedical has established a manufacturing group, which will be headed by Mr. Duane Morris, Vice President of Manufacturing. Bioxel Pharma Inc. (Ste-Foy) a manufacturer of naturally derived taxanes and targeted oncology drugs, announced that it has filed a final prospectus for a public offering of up to 14,285,715 Common Shares representing total proceeds of up to $10 million at an issue price of $0.70 per share. Genomics One Corporation (Laval) announced during its Annual Shareholders Meeting that it had signed with US-based company Promega Corporation an agreement that will contribute to its growth in sales revenues. VSM MedTech Ltd. (Vancouver) announced that its wholly owned subsidiary, CTF Systems Inc., has been selected by the University of Georgia (UGA) in Athens, Georgia to supply a whole-cortex magnetoencephalography (MEG) system. A final agreement is expected shortly.

Life Sciences News Brief is prepared by Armar International for the Life Sciences Branch of Industry Canada (contact: Paul Vaillancourt; Tel: 613-952-7700; E-mail: vaillancourt.paul@ic.gc.ca).