* Affymetrix Inc., of Santa Clara, Calif., inked a bioinformatics software collaboration with Molecular Applications Group, of Palo Alto, Calif. The companies' goals are twofold: to develop a gene index system for clustering expressed sequence tags from public and private sources, with annotations for the resultant gene sequences; and to research and develop new data mining and visualization tools that discover biological patterns in gene expression data, and integrate them with bioinformatics data from sequence, structure and predicted gene function. Initially, the collaboration will connect Affymetrix's Gene Expression Data Mining Tool software with Molecular Applications' GeneMine software to provide a platform for querying gene expression results and finding relevant structure and function data about these genes. The companies will share profits from sales of software resulting from the collaboration. * Allelix Biopharmaceuticals Inc., of Mississauga, Ontario, initiated Phase I clinical testing of ALX-0600 with a European study of safety, tolerability and pharmacokinetics. An analog of the natually ocurring peptide GLP-2, the drug is in development to treat gastrointestinal disorders such as short bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease.
* Dako A/S, of Copenhagen, won a unanimous recommendation for approval of HercepTest from a joint committee of two FDA advisory panels. The immunohistochemical test identifies breast cancer patients whose tumor tissue overexpresses the HER2 protein, associated with aggressive disease and shortened survival. Designed under a licensing agreement with South San Francisco-based Genentech Inc., the test identifies patients likely to benefit from Genentech's Herceptin (trastuzumab), an anti-HER2 monoclonal antibody that last week won its own advisory panel recommendation for approval. (See BioWorld Today, Special News Bulletin, Sept. 3, 1998, and BioWorld Today, Sept. 3, 1998, p. 1.)
* MedImmune Inc., of Gaithersburg, Md., said the FDA has approved an additional manufacturing facility for production of Synagis (palivizumab), a monoclonal antibody approved in June for prevention of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in children and infants. Under a December 1997 agreement, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma KG will make Synagis to supplement MedImmune's efforts. The manufacturer's parent company, Boehringer Ingelheim, is based in Ingelheim, Germany. Synagis, whose Phase III trial results are published in the September issue of Pediatrics, is slated for launch this month to protect babies during the upcoming RSV season. (See BioWorld Today, June 22, 1998, p. 1.)
* The North Carolina Bioscience Investment Fund, of Research Triangle Park, closed on $16 million in committed capital and within the next month will begin financing early-stage biotechnology and bioscience companies. Managed by Eno River Captial, of Durham, the fund will make investments of between $500,000 to $2 million in selected companies located in the state. North Carolina's legislature launched the fund in 1997 with a $7.5 million special appropriation. The other $8.5 million came from NationsBank, of Charlotte, Wachovia Bank, of Winston-Salem, and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, of Durham.
* Tularik Inc., of South San Francisco, and Japan Tobacco Inc., of Osaka, signed their second collaborative agreement, a three-year deal to discover, research and develop agonists and antagonists of orphan nuclear receptors. Tularik will market any resulting products in the U.S. and Canada, while Japan Tobacco will market in Japan and Korea. Terms call for cost and profit sharing, with Tularik to receive financial support for research and drug discovery.