Acacia Research Corp., of Newport Beach, Calif., said its CombiMatrix Corp. subsidiary launched Express Track, a discovery program that integrates bioinformatic design applications with chip-based synthesis technologies to produce pools of siRNA molecules. The initial focus is common viral diseases.
Actelion Ltd., of Allschwil, Switzerland, and Discovery Partners International Inc., of San Diego, signed a three-year agreement under which Actelion will procure drug discovery capabilities from Discovery Partners. Specifics of the program, including financial details, were not disclosed.
Altea Therapeutics Corp., of Tucker, Ga., began a Phase I pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic trial of AT1022, a hydromorphone skin patch designed to deliver an opiate for the management of severe pain. The product incorporates the company's PassPort system, developed to deliver large and small molecules, as well as genes and vaccines, across the skin.
Anika Therapeutics Inc., of Woburn, Mass., said it submitted the third and final module of a premarket approval application to the FDA for Orthovisc, a hyaluronic acid preparation for treating osteoarthritis of the knee. The filing includes data from a 360-patient Phase III study. Anika said it is initiating discussions with potential U.S. marketing partners.
Axcan Pharma Inc., of Mont Saint-Hilaire, Quebec, said it would support Phase II studies on the use of Photofrin photodynamic therapy in cholangiocarcinoma. The company said preclinical studies on human cholangiocarcinoma cell line models, as well as small clinical pilot studies, have indicated that Photofrin PDT can induce tumor reduction and growth-rate delay.
BioPort Corp., of Lansing, Mich., purchased the assets of Antex Biologics Inc., of Gaithersburg, Md. BioPort manufactures an anthrax vaccine, BioThrax. In March, BioPort announced its intent to purchase the assets of Antex and its wholly owned subsidiary, AntexPharma. BioPort then entered into a nonbinding letter of intent and loan agreement with Antex. Subsequently, on March 27, Antex filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11. The purchase of the Antex assets for $3.4 million was approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Maryland. (See BioWorld Today, March 31, 2003.)
Cellectis SA, of Paris, reported the publication in Nucleic Acids Research of data demonstrating that an engineered meganuclease induces homologous recombination in yeast and mammalian cells. The authors used different fusions of homing endonuclease of the LAGLIDADG family to obtain active proteins. In one of those fusions, two I-Crel monomers were linked in a single chain molecule. The natural I-Crel is functional as an homodimer. The protein cleaves its target in vitro, but also in yeast and mammalian cells, where it was shown to induce homologous recombination in extrachromosomal reporter systems.
Corixa Corp., of Seattle, said it started a Phase I trial, in collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals, of Rixensart, Belgium, to test the safety and immunogenicity of a HER-2/neu vaccine designed to treat high-risk breast cancer. The vaccine consists of a HER-2/neu protein combined with a GSK adjuvant system containing Corixa's MLP adjuvant. The multicenter, open-label, dose-escalating study will evaluate breast cancer patients whose tumors overexpress the protein and who are at a high risk of disease relapse.
Crucell NV, of Leiden, the Netherlands, signed a PER.C6 research license agreement with Merck & Co. Inc., of Whitehouse Station, N.J., that allows Merck to use the PER.C6 cell line to study the production of certain protein products, including monoclonal antibodies. Crucell will receive an up-front payment and an annual maintenance fee. Further financial details were not disclosed. Crucell and Merck entered a cooperation agreement in March 2000 in connection with Merck's exclusive license of certain rights in and to PER.C6 technology for vaccine products for HIV. Crucell and Merck also expanded that agreement to include the provision of technical assistance and guidance from Merck as appropriate.
Demegen Inc., of Pittsburgh, and Dow Pharmaceutical Sciences, of Petaluma, Calif., entered a collaborative agreement to develop certain Demegen peptides into pharmaceutical products. Dow will be responsible for selecting suitable Demegen compounds for several topical disease indications, for development and filing FDA applications and for certain other services. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Genaera Corp., of Plymouth Meeting, Pa., reported interim results for its anti-angiogenic drug, squalamine, in a Phase IIb non-small-cell lung cancer trial. The results reported are for objective response data. The company said results with squalamine in lung cancer, including one complete response, provide continued evidence of its potential as an anti-angiogenic therapy. Twenty-three percent of 43 patients receiving the drug along with carboplatin and paclitaxel experienced objective response, compared with a historical benchmark rate of 17 percent with the two chemotherapeutics alone. Squalamine offers what the company called the unique mechanism of action within the activated endothelial cells, including blocking the action of vascular endothelial growth factor and other growth factors.
Genzyme Biosurgery, a division of Genzyme Corp., of Cambridge, Mass., is facing a blocking of the forced sale of Biosurgery stock. Two leading Biosurgery shareholders, Rory Riggs and John Lewis, moved in federal court to block the sale, which was announced May 8. Genzyme plans to eliminate its three tracking stocks, one of which is Genzyme Biosurgery, through a forced exchange of stock for Genzyme General stock. The deal calls for each share of Biosurgery to be exchanged at a value of $1.77, or about $72 million in total. Riggs and Lewis contend that, at that price, Genzyme would acquire Biosurgery's assets at a discount of more than 95 percent to true market value. (See BioWorld Today, May 12, 2003.)
Immerge BioTherapeutics Inc., of Charlestown, Mass., funded a study in which the Diabetes Institute for Immunology and Transplantation researchers at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis presented data showing reversal of diabetes in insulin-dependent monkeys after transplantation with porcine islet cells. Immediately post-transplant, each of the monkeys no longer required insulin and achieved normal glucose levels. Researchers used combinations of immunosuppressive therapies to allow the cells to function within the primates for more than 70 days.
LION bioscience AG, of Heidelberg, Germany, and Silicon Genetics Inc., of Redwood City, Calif., entered a multiyear joint development and marketing collaboration. The companies will integrate their software technologies - Silicon Genetics' GeneSpring, LION's SRS and LION Target Engine - to allow seamless transfer of data between those products to accelerate and improve cross-functional activities within discovery. The initial integration will allow users of GeneSpring to access data stored in LION's SRS data and analysis tool integration platform.
Neuro Bioscience Inc., of New York, completed the acquisition of the majority of outstanding shares of CLL Pharma SA, of Nice, France. CCL Pharma is engaged in developing drug reformulations and delivery technologies. Claude Laruelle, newly appointed chairman of Neuro Bioscience, retains his position as president and CEO of CLL. Neuro Bioscience appointed Edward Kelly as president and CEO. Kelly said the acquisition of CLL would expedite the development of its products for the treatment of central nervous system disorders such as Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, depression and multiple sclerosis.
Orphan Medical Inc., of Minneapolis, said patient enrollment began for its second Phase IIIb trial designed to evaluate Xyrem (sodium oxybate) oral solution in the treatment of excessive daytime sleepiness associated with narcolepsy. The trial, called EXCEEDS (Evaluation of Xyrem to Check Efficacy in Excessive Daytime Sleepiness), will assess the effects of Xyrem on excessive daytime sleepiness with and without stimulants. Xyrem was approved in July 2002 for cataplexy. A total of 200 patients will be evaluated.
Pharmos Corp., of Iselin, N.J., raised $8 million from a private financing with 10 institutional investors. Proceeds will be used to fund Phase III development of dexanibinol for traumatic brain injury and Phase II trials for postsurgical cognitive impairment. The company issued 9.41 million shares at 85 cents per share, a 20 percent discount to a 10-day average. Five-year warrants covering another 30 percent of the shares were issued with an exercise price of $1.40 per share. Rodman & Renshaw acted as lead placement agent for the financing.
Ribapharm Inc., of Costa Mesa, Calif., said it received a letter from majority shareholder ICN Pharmaceuticals Inc., also of Costa Mesa, saying ICN intends to acquire all the Ribapharm shares it doesn't own already at $6.50 per share in cash. The offer will be conditioned on the tender of the majority of the unowned shares, and upon ICN owning 90 percent of the Ribapharm stock as a result of the move.
RxKinetix Inc., of Louisville, Colo., acquired exclusive development rights to RK-0202, an oral rinse for oral mucositis that is in Phase II development. The rights were obtained through an exclusive license from the joint venture it established with Elan Corp. plc, of Dublin, Ireland, in March 2000. In exchange, RxKinetix would pay a royalty to the joint venture on certain revenues realized from the product and reformulations of it. The deal initially called for a $2.5 million equity investment by Elan and joint funding of research and development.
Sepracor Inc., of Marlborough, Mass., called for redemption on July 10 of all outstanding 7 percent convertible subordinated debentures due Dec. 15, 2005. There is about $112 million principal amount outstanding. Alternatively, holders have the option to convert their debentures into common stock at $62.437 per share.
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., said nuclei removed from mouse brain tumor cells and transplanted into mouse eggs whose own nuclei have been removed gave rise to cloned embryos with normal tissues, even though the mutations causing the cancer were still present. The research appeared in the June 1, 2003, issue of Cancer Research. The finding demonstrates that the cancerous state can be reversed by reprogramming the genetic material underlying the cancer, the hospital said, and also indicates that genetic mutations alone are not always sufficient to cause a cell to become cancerous.