• Alnylam Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., along with scientists at Roche Kulmbach and collaborators from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, reported data from an in vivo study showing that acute and repeated dosing of small interfering RNAs achieved specific and robust silencing of target genes without any disruption of the endogenous microRNA pathway. Those data were published in Nature.

• Carrington Laboratories Inc., of Irving, Texas, has amended its technology license agreement with ElSohly Laboratories Inc., of Oxford, Miss., for use of Carrington's GelSite polymer drug delivery. The changes will allow ElSohly to use the polymer in combination with small molecules to enhance solubility and extend release time of its drug candidates, which include an anticancer drug. Financial details were not disclosed.

• ChemoCentryx Inc., of Mountain View, Calif., said data from a series of experiments to elucidate CXCR7's role in certain cancers showed that the chemokine receptor plays a role in both tumor progression and development by enabling cancer cell survival and promoting angiogenesis. CXCR7 also can be readily detected on many primary human tumor tissue samples, such as breast and lung cancers, but is not expressed by surrounding healthy tissue. Those findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

• GeoVax Labs Inc., of Atlanta, received an estimated $15 million Integrated Preclinical/Clinical AIDS Vaccine Development grant to support its HIV/AIDS vaccine program. The grant, awarded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, will be used for development, optimization, production and human testing of GeoVax's vaccine, including two Phase II studies planned for 2008. The company's HIV/AIDS vaccines are designed to prevent development of AIDS by vaccinating individuals prior to infection. GeoVax also is testing the efficacy of its vaccines as therapeutics.

• Highland Capital Management, of Dallas, a major stockholder of PDL BioPharma, of Fremont, Calif., has written to the PDL board of directors urging that the company be sold, and requesting the immediate resignations of Chairman Patrick Gage and CEO Mark McDade. Last month PDL revealed a plan to curtail its commercial operations and move back to a development stage company following the failure of its lead drug candidate. (See BioWorld Today, Aug. 30, 2007). Highland Capital criticized the decision to end the ulcerative colitis program, and PDL's "lackluster" R&D efforts. It recommended that Laurence Jay Korn, a co-founder of the company, be named to his former role of chairman.

• Isis Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Carlsbad, Calif., said its wholly owned subsidiary, Ibis Biosciences Inc., has been awarded a subcontract of a National Institutes of Health grant to aid in influenza surveillance research using the Ibis T5000 Biosensor System. The NIH grant, to the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute and subcontracted to Ibis, includes funds for assay development, and sample characterization to expand the understanding of transmission of influenza viruses, including the highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza viral strain. Financial details were not disclosed.

• NexGenix Pharmaceuticals Holdings Inc., of New York, in-licensed a family of heat-shock protein 90 (Hsp90) inhibitors from the Universite Louis Pasteur (ULP) in Strasbourg, France, and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in Paris to develop for several disorders. Under the terms, NexGenix will hold exclusive, worldwide rights to develop and commercialize the technology for human and animal therapeutic and diagnostic use, in exchange for certain maintenance fees, milestone payments and royalties to ULP and CNRS. NexGenix also entered a collaborative research agreement with the Institut de Sciences et d-Ingenierie Supramoleculaires at ULP to gain further understanding of structure activity relationships and to improve the pharmacokinetic properties of the Hsp90 inhibitor compound series.

• Osprey Pharmaceuticals Ltd., of San Francisco, has named Jack M. Anthony as CEO, replacing Philip Coggins, who will continue as president and assume the new role of chief scientific officer. Anthony will be based in San Francisco, where Osprey has located most administrative functions, while concentrating its laboratory and research and development operations in Montreal. Anthony previously was Osprey's senior vice president of corporate development.

• Protherics plc, has licensed its CoVaccine HT adjuvant for use in pandemic influenza vaccines and seasonal influenza vaccines in the elderly, to Nobilon International BV, a unit of Akzo Nobel NV, of Oss, the Netherlands. The licensing agreement gives Nobilon exclusive global rights, excluding the U.S., to develop, manufacture and commercialize two new influenza vaccines containing CoVaccine HT. Protherics will receive an up-front payment from Nobilon on signing the agreement, and also is entitled to receive success-related milestone payments and royalty payments on net sales by Nobilon. Separately, Nobilon and a consortium of European vaccine experts has received a €3.5 million grant to help fund the development of a pandemic influenza vaccine containing CoVaccine HT.

• Sloning BioTechnology GmbH, of Puchheim, Germany, said it has successfully synthesized a unique gene mutant library, called SlonoMax - Screen, for Novozymes A/S, of Franklin, N.C. Sloning used its Slonomics gene synthesis technology to introduce several individual codons at specific positions of a gene sequence in a clearly defined ratio. Novozymes will use the library for screening applications to identify enzymes with significantly improved characteristics.

• StemCells Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif., entered a research collaboration with Belgium's Universite Catholique de Louvain (UCL) and the UCL-affiliated Cliniques Universitaires Saint Luc to further the development of its human liver engrafting cells (hLEC) as a potential cell-based liver therapy. Under the terms, the parties will use UCL-ST. Luc Hospital's recently established GMP cell processing facility to optimize procedures to derive hLEC, with plans to initiate a clinical trial in children with liver-based metabolic disorders.

• XTL Biopharmaceuticals Ltd., of Valley Cottage, N.Y., has been notified by Nasdaq that the company fails to comply with the minimum $10 million shareholders' equity requirement for continued listing on the Nasdaq Global Market. The company has requested a hearing to review the finding.

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