* Altus Biologics Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., a subsidiary of Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, has launched SynthaCLEC-PA, a catalyst for the bulk manufacture of semi-synthetic penicillin antibiotics. SynthaCLEC-PA is an immobilized form of penicillin amidase, an enzyme catalyst used in manufacturing antibiotics.
* Biomatrix Inc., of Ridgefield, N.J., and distributing partner Collagen Corp., of Palo, Alto, Calif., reported Hylaform viscoelastic gel has been launched in every country of the European economic area. Hylaform gel is Biomatrix's hylan B gel used for viscoaugmentation of dermal tissue to correct facial wrinkles and depressed scars.
* CEL-SCI Corp., of Alexandria, Va., and AIDS ReSearch Alliance, of West Hollywood, Calif., reported the start of an HIV treatment study with CEL-SCI's immunotherapy drug, Multikine, which will evaluate the safety of Multikine with AIDS patients and its effect on various immune system responses. Multikine is a natural mixture of human immune system regulators called cytokines. It contains Interleukin-2 and other cytokines, several of which are being investigated individually as potential HIV-1 and cancer treatments.
* ClinTrials Research Inc., of Nashville, Tenn., has acquired Ovation Healthcare Research, of Highland Park, Ill., with the purpose of improving ClinTrials Research's global capability for designing and performing pharmacoeconomic and outcomes research.
* Genzyme General Corp., of Cambridge, Mass., and LeukoSite Inc., also of Cambridge, have entered into a collaborative agreement for identifying new drug candidates for the treatment of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Under terms of the agreement, Genzyme will provide LeukoSite with access to more than 800,000 compounds in Genzyme's compound library. LeukoSite will screen the library against its biological targets related to cell adhesion and inflammatory bowel disease. After the screening is complete, the two companies will negotiate a research collaboration agreement covering the development and commercialization of active compounds discovered during the screening.
* NV Organon, of the Netherlands, reported in the June 1997 issue of Arthritis and Rheumatism that its researchers have identified a key antigen which may have potential in developing specific, potent therapeutics for rheumatoid arthritis. Data demonstrated that human cartilage (HC) gp-39 is recognized by T cells from rheumatoid arthritis patients. The HC gp-39 protein has the potential to block arthritis in the mouse model. This antigen is a central component in a therapeutic being developed for Organon by Anergen Inc., of Redwood City, Calif.
* Procept Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., completed a Phase I safety trial in Antwerp, Belgium, of the company's lead drug candidate, PRO 2000, designed to prevent HIV-1 infection and other sexually transmitted diseases. The gel was well tolerated in healthy female volunteers, with no serious adverse events.
* Immucor Inc., of Norcross, Ga., said it plans to repurchase up to 10 percent of its common stock in the open market. A maker of blood-bank reagent systems and related products, Immucor has 8.1 million common shares outstanding. The company is not committed to purchasing any minimum number of shares and may terminate the program at any time, noted Edward Gallup, president.
* Magainin Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Plymouth Meeting, Pa., received a $5 million payment from SmithKline Beecham plc, of Middlesex, U.K. The payment reflects successful completion of clinical testing of Cytolex and sufficiency of clinical data to support the FDA's acceptance of the new drug application. Cytolex is a broad-spectrum topical antibiotic cream to treat infection in diabetic foot ulcers. To date SmithKline has paid Magainin $10 million under the agreement. It will pay up to $22.5 million more if other milestones are met.
* PPL Therapeutics plc, of Midlothian, Scotland, completed a Phase I cystic fibrosis trial of AAT (alpha-1-antitrypsin). PPL, the company that was involved in cloning "Dolly," the sheep, earlier this year, reported the drug was safe and well tolerated.