• APT Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Foster City, Calif., gained exclusive worldwide rights to an inhalable form of cyclosporine from Novartis Pharma AG, of Basel, Switzerland. Rights cover use for the prevention and treatment of lung transplant rejection. The FDA in June 2005 issued an approvable letter for an aerosolizable form of cyclosporine from Chiron Corp., which later was acquired by Novartis. APT specializes in re-purposing existing drugs. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

• Bavarian Nordic A/S, of Copenhagen, Denmark, was awarded a $500 million contract by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The award, under the BioShield program, is for Bavarian Nordic to manufacture and deliver 20 million doses of Imvamune, a next-generation modified vaccinia Ankara smallpox vaccine designed to be safer than currently stockpiled vaccine. The five-year contract for 20 million doses includes options that could increase the value to $1.6 billion and extend the performance period of the contract. The contract award was expected. (See BioWorld Today, April 17, 2007.)

• BioLineRx Ltd., of Jerusalem, launched a new initiative to provide funding for early stage research and development of innovative therapeutics that have not yet achieved in vivo proof of concept. Called the Early Development Program (EDP), it is funded by a $6 million grant from Pan Atlantic Bank and Trust Ltd. and BioLineRx. The Pan Atlantic grant for the EDP is in addition to $9 million it invested in BioLineRx earlier this year.

• Biovest International Inc., of Worcester, Mass., said it would file and seek conditional approval of its therapeutic anticancer vaccine, BiovaxID, for follicular Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma following an independent data monitoring committee review of all interim data from a pivotal Phase III study. The company did not release the latest findings, but said its decision is based on those data and prior clinical experience with the product, which is designed to stimulate a patient's immune system to recognize and destroy cancerous B-cells that may remain in the body or could arise after chemotherapy. Among existing data are findings from a Phase II study with a median follow-up of 9.2 years. At that point, 45 percent of patients remained in continuous first complete remission, and the median disease-free survival was eight years. Furthermore, 73 percent of evaluable patients were converted into molecular remission after the administration of BiovaxID, and also at 9.2 years of follow-up, 95 percent of those patients remained alive compared to historical controls of about 50 percent. If conditionally approved in a year, Biovest said it would expect to launch it by early 2009. The company plans to file separate applications with the FDA and European regulators. On Tuesday, its stock (OTC BB:BVTI) gained 10 cents, or 22.7 percent, to close at 54 cents.

• Copernicus Therapeutics Inc., of Cleveland, said it showed that the methods used to produce DNA nanoparticles also were effective when applied to siRNA. Data presented at the American Society of Gene Therapy meeting in Seattle showed the company may be able to expand the use of its nonviral nucleic acid delivery system to the field of siRNA.

• Corautus Genetics Inc., of Atlanta, said its stockholders approved the previously announced merger with privately held VIA Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Francisco. Under terms disclosed in February, VIA would own about 76.4 percent of the combined company. Upon closing, which was expected Tuesday, the name would be changed to VIA and the company would conduct a reverse stock split. (See BioWorld Today, Feb. 9, 2007.)

• Crucell NV, of Leiden, the Netherlands, and Royal DSM NV, of Sittard, the Netherlands, entered a nonexclusive PER.C6 research licensing deal with Sartorius Biotech GmbH, of Goettingen, Germany. Sartorius will use Crucell's technology to evaluate monoclonal antibodies produced using PER.C6 cells for calibrating and testing equipment products useful in the manufacture and/or purification of recombinant monoclonal antibodies. Crucell and Sartorius further agreed to expand their PER.C6 collaboration by sharing technology and data on antibody production. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• Elixir Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., presented preclinical data it said confirmed ghrelin antagonism as a potential method for regulating metabolism, decreasing body weight and managing blood glucose. Data were presented at The Endocrine Society meeting in Toronto.

• Enzo Biochem Inc., of New York, said it completed the acquisition of Axxora Life Sciences Inc., a privately held, San Diego-based manufacturer and marketer of life science research products. The deal when announced last month was valued at $16.3 million in cash. Axxora will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Enzo. Axxora had revenues of about $16 million and 60 employees worldwide in 2006, and has wholly owned subsidiaries in the U.S., Switzerland, Germany and the UK.

• Eurand NV, of Milan, Italy, is receiving a $1 million milestone payment from partner GlaxoSmithKline plc, of London, which started a registration bioequivalence study for a new orally disintegrating tablet formulation of an undisclosed compound. It dissolves in the mouth in about 30 seconds without water and without leaving a bitter or sour taste. GSK plans to file for FDA approval by the end of this year.

• Exact Sciences Corp., of Marlborough, Mass., and NorDiag ASA, of Oslo, Norway, entered an agreement to advance the development and commercialization of colorectal cancer screening technologies outside the U.S. and Canada. Exact extended a nonexclusive license to its DIA (long-DNA) technology and related know-how to NorDiag for commercializing such tests in Europe, Japan and Australia. The collaboration and license also include the right to develop an in vitro diagnostic test kit for those markets. In exchange, NorDiag will pay a licensing fee and royalties, though specific financial terms were not disclosed.

• Genaera Corp., of Plymouth Meeting, Pa., regained full compliance with listing requirements of the Nasdaq Capital Market after its stock maintained a closing price of $1 or greater for a minimum of 10 consecutive trading days. As a result, the metabolic disease-focused company's stock will continue to be quoted on the Nasdaq Capital Market.

• GenomeQuest Inc., of Westborough, Mass., entered an agreement to provide its GenomeQuest archive of close to 67 million patented sequences to ARYx Therapeutics Inc., of Fremont, Calif. The privately held pharmaceutical company, which is focused on retrometabolic drug design, will use the sequence search solution to evaluate new gene sequences, as well as its freedom-to-operate, patentability and competitive landscape features for the same sequences. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• NanoViricides Inc., of West Haven, Conn., said it would receive $5 million as part of new spending authority in a defense authorization bill that's making its way through Congress. The funding would be used to explore a treatment for dengue fever, for which the company said no vaccine or effective treatment exists. NanoViricides is developing type-specific and broad-spectrum nanoviricides against dengue viruses in collaboration with the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.

• Neurogen Corp., of Branford, Conn., said development activities for MK-2295 (NGD-8243) will continue, based on promising preliminary results from proof-of-concept studies in its collaboration with Merck & Co Inc., of Whitehouse Station, N.J. The research part of their collaboration, which focuses on small-molecule therapeutics targeting the vanilloid receptor (VR-1), will conclude Aug. 28. Neurogen is entitled to milestone payments and royalties from the deal.

• Neuro-Hitech Inc., of New York, said the Alzheimer's Disease Research program of the American Health Assistance Foundation awarded a member of its scientific advisory board a $1 million grant to fund further research into compounds licensed to the company. The funds will be used to develop, optimize and characterize compounds that have been shown to inhibit the aggregation of A-beta and Tau, both the major proteins responsible for Alzheimer's disease.

• Nuvelo Inc., of San Carlos, Calif., said data were published from a preclinical study of monoclonal antibodies against the cell-surface protein NTB-A, demonstrating NTB-A is a potential new target for immunotherapy of B-cell malignancies including leukemia and lymphomas. NTB-A is a CD2-related cell surface protein expressed primarily on lymphoid cells. The study appears in the May issue of the British Journal of Haematology.

• PhytoMedical Technologies Inc., of Princeton, N.J., signed its first developmental collaboration in cancer research with Dartmouth College. Researchers there have synthesized a new class of antitumor agents with a cytotoxic affinity for cancer cells that are designed to bind more tightly to cancer cell DNA than many conventional anticancer drugs by a process called bis-intercalation or double binding, much like a molecular staple. In collaboration with them, PhytoMedical plans to improve upon the concept of bis-intercalation and will evaluate the new compounds against several different cancer cell lines, including prostate, lung, brain and bladder cancer. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• QLT Inc., of Vancouver, British Columbia, said its board authorized the repurchase of up to $50 million of the company's outstanding shares over the next 12 months. Shares could be purchased on both Nasdaq and the Toronto Stock Exchange. For the 12 months that ended June 1, QLT had purchased 13.43 million shares at an average price of $7.96 per share. It has about 75.4 million shares outstanding on June 1.

• Senomyx Inc., of San Diego, said Nestle SA, of Vevey, Switzerland, began commercial introduction of the first food products that contain Senomyx's flavor ingredients. Senomyx is entitled to royalty payments on resulting sales. The new product, within the bouillon category, was introduced by Nestle in a Pacific Rim country. Senomyx's stock (NASDAQ:SNMX) gained $2.20 Tuesday, or 16.3 percent, to close at $15.69.

• Sunesis Pharmaceuticals Inc., of South San Francisco, earned a milestone payment in the form of a $375,000 convertible note from SARcode Corp., of Oakland, Calif., for the latter's selection of an LFA-1 inhibitor development candidate and the commencement of GLP toxicology studies. SARcode initially is seeking to develop the small-molecule LFA-1 candidate for T-cell-mediated ophthalmic diseases. The next payable milestone, if earned, would be triggered by an investigational new drug application. Sunesis, which restarted the LFA-1 inhibitor program earlier this year, previously had discontinued it because the research falls outside its cancer focus.

• StemCells Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif., said a paper published in this week's online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences described a new technique for non-invasive tracking of human neural stem cells transplanted into the brains of mice. The technique involves tagging them with Feridex, a commonly used magnetic resonance imaging agent approved by the FDA for use in humans. The company, which supplied the human neural stem cells, said the findings could enhance researchers' knowledge and understanding of where the cells go, how they get there and how they behave when they get to their final destination. Several of its researchers worked on those studies.

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