AlgoRx Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cranbury, N.J., said it acquired rights to its third clinical-stage pipeline product, ALGRX 2872, which was in-licensed from a physician investigator. ALGRX 2872 will be evaluated for treatment of migraines. It consists of a triptan antimigraine drug in a specific formulation.
Alkermes Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., said its board adopted a shareholder rights plan under which all common shareholders of record as of Feb. 20 will receive rights to purchase shares of a new series of preferred stock. The rights plan is designed to enable all Alkermes shareholders to realize the full value of their investment and to provide for fair and equal treatment in the event that an unsolicited attempt is made to acquire Alkermes.
Althea Technologies Inc., of San Diego, said the results of a study using multiplexed gene expression in compound library screening were published in the December 2002 edition of the journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics. The paper highlights the use of Althea's high-throughput gene expression technology for lead compound screening and optimization in order to enhance the drug discovery process.
AstraZeneca plc, of London, submitted a European marketing approval application for Iressa (gefitinib, ZD1839), designed to treat metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer in patients previously treated with platinum-based and docetaxel chemotherapy. The first in a new class of anticancer drugs, the epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitor in July received Japanese approval to treat inoperable or recurrent non-small-cell lung cancer. Its 2002 sales totaled $67 million.
Avanir Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, said that it used its Xenerex technology to generate a fully human antibody that neutralizes a key toxin of the Class A biowarfare agent anthrax. The antibody candidate potentially could, either alone or in combination with other antibodies, provide immediate immunity to individuals suspected to have been exposed to anthrax, the company said. Avanir's stock (AMEX:AVN) gained 76 cents Tuesday, or 87.4 percent, to close at 1.63.
Aviva Biosciences Corp., of San Diego, opened its 15,000-square-foot corporate headquarters along with a 2,000-square-foot manufacturing facility - to be used for its first product, SealChip, an ion channel patch clamp chip that is sold for use in the PatchXpress 7000 drug discovery system, made by Axon Instruments Inc., of Melbourne, Australia. Specifically, the 16-well disposable SealChip is the exclusive ion channel patch clamp chip used in PatchXpress7000, which fully automates ion channel research.
Beyond Genomics Inc., of Waltham, Mass., entered an agreement with Novartis Pharma AG, of Basel, Switzerland, under which BG will use its Systems Biology approach to analyze samples of patients with cardiovascular disease. BG will identify and characterize differences between normal and abnormal patient samples, for the discovery of molecular markers to predict, diagnose and monitor the progression of cardiovascular disease. Novartis will provide BG with patient plasma samples for the program and also will provide research funding for work carried out by BG.
Ciphergen Biosystems Inc., of Fremont, Calif., and Biosite Inc., of San Diego, entered a collaboration in cardiovascular and other diseases primarily to facilitate the discovery of antibody and protein target components that can be applied to either company's testing platform for diagnostic assays. Biosite will provide clinical samples to address specific clinical questions. Ciphergen's Biomarker Discovery Center scientists plan to use its ProteinChip Biomarker Systems and related technology to discover differentially expressed protein biomarkers that may be useful as diagnostics or as therapeutics. Financial and other terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Corautus Genetics Inc., of San Diego, appointed the officers and senior management team elected by its newly formed board following the completion of the merger between GenStar Therapeutics Corp., of San Diego, and Vascular Genetics Inc., of Atlanta. Richard Otto was elected CEO. He is the former president and CEO of Vascular Genetics and held key positions at cardiac care companies, including Medtronic Inc. Richard Sobol was elected president of Corautus. Sobol was the president and CEO of GenStar Therapeutics. Separately, Corautus said its board authorized a reverse stock split at a ratio of 1-for-7. The reverse stock split would become effective upon final approval by the American Stock Exchange, the company said. GenStar Therapeutics and Vascular Genetics first reported the reverse merger in September. (See BioWorld Today, Sept. 16, 2002.)
Curis Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., released favorable findings surrounding its BMP-7 protein drug candidate. In the current edition of Stroke, an American Heart Association publication, it was reported that BMP-7 can improve motor function after a stroke, even when the compound is delivered intravenously 24 hours after the injury. In November, Curis licensed to Ortho Biotech, a subsidiary of New Brunswick, N.J.-based Johnson & Johnson, the rights to its BMP portfolio for neurological, renal and other therapeutic indications. Ortho Biotech is responsible for all decisions regarding the development of products from Curis' BMP portfolio. (See BioWorld Today, Dec. 2, 2002.)
Domantis Ltd., of Cambridge, UK, received $5 million in payments from Peptech Ltd., of Sydney, Australia, and MVM Ltd., of London, as its lead compound, an antitumor necrosis factor alpha product being co-developed with Peptech, enters preclinical testing. The $5 million is the final guaranteed payment in a $20 million investment and research agreement that was concluded in April 2001.
Dynavax Technologies Corp., of Berkeley, Calif., initiated an exploratory Phase II trial to evaluate the efficacy of its inhaled ISS (immunostimulatory DNA sequences) for the treatment of asthma. The goal of the ISS therapy is to reprogram the immune response, reducing the inflammatory immune responses to allergens and potentially providing long-lasting results.
InSite Vision Inc., of Alameda, Calif., reported that an investigational new drug application for ISV-403 for the treatment of ocular bacterial infections was filed with the FDA. The company said it expects to initiate a Phase I trial of ISV-403, an InSite Vision drug being developed under a licensing agreement with Bausch & Lomb Inc., of Rochester, N.Y., during the second quarter.
Johnson & Johnson, of New Brunswick, N.J., completed its acquisition of OraPharma Inc., of Warminster, Pa., for $85 million, net of cash. OraPharma shareholders received $7.41 for each outstanding share. The acquisition is not expected to have a material impact on revenues or earnings of Johnson & Johnson. OraPharma, which will remain in its headquarters, will operate as part of the Personal Products Co., a member of the Johnson & Johnson family of companies.
Ligand Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, said treatment with its approved cancer drug Ontak (denileukin diftitox) generated complete remission of acute graft-vs.-host disease in five of 11 steroid-resistant patients after allogeneic stem cell transplants, and partial remission in two more patients, according to interim results of a Phase I/II study conducted by independent researchers.
LION bioscience AG, of Heidelberg, Germany, said the German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority ended a routine investigation into recent share price movements of LION. The office informed LION that it found no irregularities in the share price development, and at no time was the investigation directed at the company itself, LION said.
Lorus Therapeutics Inc., of Toronto, said the company and the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., approved clinical protocols to conduct a series of Phase II trials to investigate the safety and efficacy of its lead antisense drug, GTI-2040, in breast cancer, colon cancer, non-small-cell lung cancer, acute myeloid leukemia, prostate cancer and other solid tumors. The NCI will fund the trials.
MicroTest Laboratories Inc., of Agawam, Mass., received a $1.22 million contract to provide aseptic manufacturing support for the production of a series of recombinant vaccines against botulinum neurotoxins. The six-month contract was awarded through DynPort Vaccine Co., a joint venture between DynCorp, of Reston, Va., and Porton International plc, of London. DynPort Vaccine is a prime systems contractor to the Department of Defense, under the Joint Vaccine Acquisition Program, responsible for developing, licensing and stockpiling specific biodefense vaccines and other products to protect armed forces personnel against potential bioweapons agents.
Synaptic Pharmaceutical Corp., of Paramus, N.J., said its stockholders approved its $121 million merger with a subsidiary of H. Lundbeck A/S, of Copenhagen, Denmark. Synaptic will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Lundbeck. (See BioWorld Today, Nov. 22, 2002.)
Synergia Pharma Inc., of South San Francisco, closed a $2 million placement of Series A preferred stock to MPM Capital, of Boston. The privately held firm said the financing would provide funds to begin clinical development of therapeutics to treat migraine and other neurologic disorders. Concurrent with the financing, MPM added a pair of representatives to the board of Synergia, which is focused on sympathetic nervous system dysfunction.
The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) and its financing arm, The Vaccine Fund, pledged two $30 million grants to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health. Both institutions were selected in an effort to ensure that vaccines against pneumococcus and rotavirus are made available quickly to developing countries once they are licensed. GAVI, a public-private partnership focused on increasing access to vaccines among children in poor countries, includes partners in national governments, UNICEF, WHO, The World Bank, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the vaccine industry, public health institutions and others.
Viventia Biotech Inc., of Toronto, said its board approved a transaction whereby the company will repay a C$2 million (US$1.3 million) convertible secured debenture to Clairmark Investments Ltd. and immediately thereafter, Clairmark Investments, a company controlled by Leslie Dan, will make a private placement equity financing for $2 million. The repayment of the $2 million debenture, which matures on June 19, 2004, results in an interest savings to the company of more than $270,000 between the closing date of the transaction and the maturity date of the retired debenture. Under the terms of the private placement, Clairmark Investments purchased 11.1 million units issued by the company at C18 cents per share.