• Acura Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Palatine, Ill., filed an amendment to its certificate of incorporation, effecting a 1-for-10 reverse stock split. The company's stock began trading Wednesday on a split-adjusted basis under the symbol "ACPH." The aim of the reverse stock split is to reduce the number of outstanding shares while raising the per-share trading price, in order to obtain a listing on the American Stock Exchange or Nasdaq. The company's stock, currently listed on the Over-the-Counter Bulletin Board, gained $1.15, or 16 percent, Wednesday to close at $8.

• Arius Research Inc., of Toronto, signed a manufacturing supply and technology transfer agreement with Tustin, Calif.-based Avid Bioservices Inc. covering Arius' lead cancer stem cell antibody targeting an epitope of CD44 found in breast, colon and prostate cancers. Avid will begin manufacturing a supply of the drug for human trials, expected to start in 2008. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• Avant Immunotherapeutics Inc., of Needham, Mass., reported preclinical data demonstrating positive immunogenicity and lack of immune interference for an experimental single-dose, oral vaccine combining protection from three causes of severe enteric diseases: typhoid fever, enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC) and cholera. Oral dosing of the experimental trivalent vaccine, comprised of both the company's Peru-15pCTB and Ty800 vaccines, in a rabbit immunization model showed that the product effectively induced the production of specific antibodies against all three disease organisms. Data were presented at the bacterial infections meeting in Austin, Texas. Avant recently reported that the National Institutes of Health agreed to sponsor a Phase I trial of its Peru-15pCTB vaccine combining protection against ETEC and cholera in the first quarter of 2008, and the company is investigating its Ty800 vaccine in Phase II.

• BioInvent International, of Lund, Sweden, designated a new clinical candidate, BI-505, from its research program in the area of apoptosis. BI-505, which targets ICAM-1, a protein expressed heavily on tumor cells, is ready to enter preclinical development.

• BioSeek Inc., of Burlingame, Calif., entered a collaboration agreement with UCB SA, of Brussels, Belgium, to apply its BioMAP Systems to evaluate a number of UCB compounds across several target classes. BioMAP Systems are a series of human primary cell-based assay systems designed to replicate the intricate cell and pathway interactions present in human disease biology. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• GTC Biotherapeutics Inc., of Framingham, Mass., has entered into a definitive agreement with ProGenetics LLC, of Blacksburg, Va., to obtain an exclusive license to develop and commercialize ProGenetics' recombinant human factor IX, recombinant human factor VIII, and recombinant human fibrinogen for North America, Europe and Japan. ProGenetics is developing production of the human coagulation factors IX and VIII in the milk of transgenic pigs and has patents that cover the transgenic production of human fibrinogen. ProGenetics will receive a nonexclusive license to GTC's patent in the U.S. for the transgenic expression of therapeutic proteins in milk for commercial development outside of North America, Europe and Japan. ProGenetics received $500,000 from GTC upon signing the agreement and will receive approximately $500,000 in the second quarter of 2008. GTC also will receive a small equity interest in ProGenetics.

• Nastech Pharmaceutical Co., of Bothell, Wash., has entered into a feasibility study with an undisclosed producer of plasma products to develop an alternative dosage form of Factor IX protein, which currently is administered by injection to control and prevent bleeding in patients with hemophilia B. The goal is to explore alternatives to the frequent injections required for those patients.

• Panacea Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Gaithersburg, Md., selected PAN-622, a human sequence monoclonal antibody against HAAH, as its lead cancer therapeutic, expected to enter initial clinical trials in early 2009. The compound, developed in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has demonstrated high affinity and efficacy in animal models of cancer and, having a fully human sequence, is expected to have significantly fewer adverse effects compared to chimeric or humanized monoclonal antibodies.

• Scolr Pharma Inc., of Bellevue, Wash., extended its research agreement with an undisclosed consumer products company to co-develop an application of its CDT drug delivery technology. Under the terms, Scolr will receive a research fee, and if the program is successful, the parties are anticipated to enter a global license agreement.

• Senesco Technologies Inc., of New Brunswick, N.J., has initiated preclinical lab studies at the Mayo Clinic focused on multiple myeloma. The studies will test the ability of Senesco's Factor 5A gene technology to up-regulate apoptosis of cancer cells, and evaluate delivery molecules for encapsulation of Factor 5A to enhance the time the gene will circulate in the bloodstream before clearance by the body. The data will be reviewed to determine whether to seek an investigational new drug application.

• Synta Pharmaceuticals Corp., of Lexington, Mass., has received an up-front nonrefundable cash payment of $80 million from GlaxoSmithKline, of London, as part of their collaboration agreement to jointly develop and commercialize elesclomol. Elesclomol is a first-in-class, small-molecule, oxidative stress inducer that is currently in a global, pivotal Phase III trial in metastatic melanoma, called the SYMMETRY trial. (See BioWorld Today, Oct. 11, 2007). Synta has completed a special protocol assessment process with the FDA on the design, conduct and planned analyses of the trial.

• Urigen Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Burlingame, Calif., and Hyaluron Contract Manufacturing Inc. have formed a partnership to develop URG101, Urigen's fixed dose combination of FDA-approved drugs targeting painful bladder syndrome. Urigen's URG101 project targets painful bladder syndrome/interstitial cystitis, which affects approximately 10.5 million men and women in North America. The URG301 project targets urethritis and acute urgency in patients diagnosed with an overactive bladder.

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