• Applied Biosystems, of Foster City, Calif., signed a licensing and collaboration agreement with BioTrove Inc., of Woburn, Mass., to commercialize an analysis platform for high-throughput genotyping applications. Under the agreement, Applied Biosystems will develop and market custom-built arrays of TaqMan SNP Genotyping Assays pre-loaded on BioTrove's OpenArray platform. Applied Biosystems retains the rights to commercialize all genotyping applications, including assays other than those based on TaqMan technology, for BioTrove's platform, and retains an option to collaborate with BioTrove to develop and commercialize the OpenArray platform for high-throughput gene expression applications. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• Beactica AB, of Uppsala, Sweden, entered a drug discovery agreement with London-based Arrow Therapeutics Ltd. to direct its characterization technology at selected Arrow compounds against a confidential target. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• Cambria Biosciences LLC, of Woburn, Mass., was awarded five grants totaling $5 million from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, The ALS Association and the ALS Therapy Alliance. Funds will help support the firm's drug discovery programs for neurodegenerative diseases, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and Parkinson's disease.

• Celgene International Sarl, of Neuchatel, Switzerland, said the Australian Drug Evaluation Committee recommended approval of Revlimid (lenalidomide) in combination with dexamethasone in multiple myeloma patients whose cancers have progressed after one therapy. That recommendation will be forwarded to Australia's regulatory authority for final approval, expected to take two to six weeks. Regulators generally follow the recommendation of ADEC. Revlimid previously gained approval for multiple myeloma in the U.S. and Europe, and for myelodysplastic syndromes in the U.S.

• Cephalon Inc., of Frazer, Pa., submitted a supplemental new drug application for Fentora (fentanyl buccal) in treating breakthrough pain in patients with chronic pain conditions. The drug, a tablet formulation of the opioid fentanyl, currently is approved for treating breakthrough pain in cancer patients. The sNDA is based on data from several clinical trials in patients with various chronic pain conditions, such as chronic low back and chronic neuropathic pain. (See BioWorld Today, Aug. 17, 2007.)

• Crucell NV, of Leiden, the Netherlands, said its subsidiary Berna Biotech AG sold all of the 2.9 million shares it owned in Bern, Switzerland-based Pevion Biotech Ltd., generating net proceeds of CHF10 million (US$8.9 million). Pevion was a joint venture between Berna and Bubendorf, Switzerland-based Bachem Group AG. Separately, Crucell signed a deal with Sanquin, a nonprofit blood blank in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. That deal gives Crucell exclusive marketing and distribution rights in certain countries to Cofact, Sanquin's registration-stage prothrombin complex to promote blood clotting. Terms were not disclosed.

• Cytogen Corp., of Princeton, N.J., named Kevin Lokay president and CEO. Lokay most recently served as vice president and business unit head of oncology and acute care at GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals.

• Direvo Biotech AG, of Cologne, Germany, signed an agreement with New York-based Pfizer Inc. to develop therapeutic proteases for various disease targets. Direvo will apply its protein-engineering capabilities to create proteases with engineered specificity for those targets and will optimize preclinical candidates. Pfizer then will be responsible for development and marketing, and will pay Direvo milestones and royalties on any product sales.

• Eden Biodesign Ltd., of Liverpool, UK, and ImmunoBiology Ltd., of Cambridge, UK, extended their initial collaboration to develop ImmBio's influenza vaccine, with the new contract covering a range of development and cGMP manufacturing services to produce material for ImmBio's Phase I trial. ImmBio is developing ImmunoBodies, a technology designed to work by coupling the Fc region of an antibody to influenza haemagglutinin. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

• Hemispherx Biopharma Inc., of Philadelphia, said data showed that Ampligen, a Toll-like receptor 3 (TLR-3) agonist, combined with an H5N1 vaccine derived from a highly pathogenic influenza virus clinical isolate, induced cross-protective mucosal immunity against heterologous H5N1 influenza virus infection. The firm said that intranasal vaccination co-administered with Ampligen appears to offer an effective strategy against an influenza pandemic, regardless of the strain of H5N1. Data were published by Japan's National Institute of Infectious Diseases in the Institut Pasteur's Microbes and Infection. An earlier article published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases concluded that intranasal inoculation with annual influenza vaccine plus Ampligen may overcome the problem of a limited supply of H5N1 virus vaccine by providing cross-protection mucosal immunity against H5N1 viruses with pandemic potential.

• Hollis-Eden Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, reported findings that suggested its drug candidate, Apoptone (HE3235) and other compounds from its hormonal signaling technology platform might play a role in treating or preventing diseases associated with aging, including hormone receptor-sensitive cancers. Among data presented at the geriatric oncology meeting in Madrid, Spain, was a study showing that Apoptone had activity in preclinical models of prostate cancer LNCaP and LuCaP 35V human cell lines, as well as in a MNU carcinogen-induced breast cancer model, by significantly inhibiting the incidence, growth and progression of tumors.

• ImmuneRegen BioSciences Inc., of Scottsdale, Ariz., reported additional findings from small animal studies of Viprovex in infectious diseases, including ongoing studies in the cotton rat, an accepted model for human respiratory virus infection, showing the drug's ability to decrease the symptoms and aftereffects of certain influenza virus strains. Viprovex, which previously demonstrated decreased weight loss and hypothermia exhibited by influenza-infected rats, showed that animals treated with the drug demonstrated less pulmonary inflammation. New data also showed that Viprovex had a positive interaction with Tamiflu, a neuraminidase inhibitor from Basel, Switzerland-based F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd.

• Lpath Inc., of San Diego, said it plans to expand development of sonepcizumab, the humanized version of its anti-angiogenic antibody Sphingomab, beyond wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD). New indications may include diabetic retinopathy, dry AMD, uveitis and scar formation. Lpath plans to file an investigational new drug application with the drug next year in wet AMD.

• NanoViricides Inc., of West Haven, Conn., reported that its nanoviricide drug candidates for rabies exhibited a consistent 20 percent to 30 percent survival rate in test animals, in contrast to a commercial antirabies antibody, which produced zero percent survival. The company said it believes that significantly increased survival rate of lethally infected animals is possible, and is planning dose-ranging studies. Nanoviricides, which are designed specifically to attack enveloped virus particles and dismantle them, also are being developed in viral diseases such as H5N1 bird flu, seasonal influenza, HIV, hepatitis C and dengue fever.

• Paion AG, of Aachen, Germany, said it is seeking a new U.S. partner for lead compound Desmoteplase, which it plans to advance despite inconclusive results reported in June from a Phase III stroke trial that yielded a greater-than-expected response in the placebo group. Paion's former partner, Forest Laboratories Inc., of New York, returned rights to the product in August. Paion later completed a reanalysis of the Phase III data and determined to move Desmoteplase into another study focusing on patients with obstructed major brain arteries. (See BioWorld Today, June 4, 2007, and Aug. 31, 2007.)

• VGX Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Blue Bell, Pa., said its SynCon (Synthetic Consensus) pandemic flu DNA vaccines (VGX-3400) provided protection against a lethal challenge of live H5N1 viruses in ferrets. Data showed that the animals treated with the vaccines were fully protected from illness and subsequent death in a challenge using an unmatched Vietnamese strain of avian flu virus. During the experiments, 100 percent of ferrets treated with VGX-3400 survived, while 100 percent of the control animals died. Those results were presented at the vaccines and adjuvants conference in Dublin, Ireland.

• ViroPharma Inc., of Exton, Pa., said Camvia was granted orphan drug status in Europe for the prevention of cytomegalovirus disease in patients with impaired cell-mediated immunity. That designation comes with regulatory assistance as the drug moves through development and would provide 10 years of marketing exclusivity upon approval. Camvia (maribavir), a benzimidazole riboside, is in Phase III development in CMV.

• VistaGen Therapeutics Inc., of South San Francisco, said that preclinical data suggested that AV-101 (4-chlorokynurenine), a first-in-class prodrug designed to regulate critical glutamate signaling pathways in the brain, including those associated with the stimulation of neurons that produce dopamine, may be useful for treating Parkinson's disease. In the studies, animal models were used to measure the activity of dopaminergic (DA) neurons in the brain following the systemic administration of AV-101, which is converted in the brain into 7-chlorokynurenic acid, one of the most potent and selective regulators of the glycine-site of the NMDA receptor. Treatment with AV-101 was found to increase the firing rate and burst-firing activity of DA neurons by 27 percent and 61 percent, respectively.