• Aeolus Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, said a study by researchers at the University of Colorado and National Jewish Medical and Research Center showed the company's first orally available catalytic antioxidant, AEOL 11207, demonstrated neuroprotection in an animal model of Parkinson's disease. The results were published in the April 18, 2007 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience. The study also showed that the compound has favorable blood-brain barrier permeability.

• Affymetrix Inc., of Santa Clara, Calif., and Illumina Inc., of San Diego, said the National Genome Research Network (NGFN) in Germany selected their respective technologies for a project aimed at investigating underlying causes and developing more effective treatments for 25 complex diseases, including Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy, heart diseases, malaria and Parkinson's disease. The NGFN will use Affymetrix's Genome-Wide Human SNP Array 5.0 to genotype more than 17,000 individuals, and gain access to the SNP Array 6.0 when it becomes available later this year. The project also will involve the use of Illumina's Infinium Human CNV370-Duo, HumanHap300-Duo and HumanHap550 BeadChips to genotype 8,000 patients and controls.

• Avantogen Oncology Inc., of Los Angeles, signed an agreement assigning rights owned by the company and its subsidiary, Resistys Inc., relating to pancreatic cancer product RP101, to San Mateo, Calif.-based SciClone Pharmaceuticals Inc. Under the terms, SciClone agreed to pay about $1.7 million in up-front fees, plus success-based regulatory and commercial payments of up to $23.3 million and royalties on any future sales. Milestones and royalties will be shares with RESprotect GmbH, the owner of intellectual property rights to RP101. SciClone plans to develop the product, initially in combination with gemcitabine, for pancreatic cancer in the U.S. and Canada.

• Biosite Inc., of San Diego, received a binding offer from Inverness Medical Innovations Inc., of Waltham, Mass., to acquire the company for $90 per share. The offer was determined by Biosite's board to be a "superior proposal" to the existing merger agreement, signed last month, between Biosite and Fullerton, Calif.-based Beckman Coulter Inc., which offered to pay $85 per share. Biosite reported that it informed Beckman Coulter of its intention to terminate that merger agreement and accept the Inverness proposal after 12:01 a.m. PT May 2. Beckman Coulter has until that time to make a binding offer that the Biosite board determines is at least as favorable as the Inverness proposal. (See BioWorld Today, March 27, 2007, and April 6, 2007.)

• Cerus Corp., of Concord, Calif., said it plans to explore strategic alternatives for its immunotherapy programs so that the company can focus resources on its commercial-stage blood safety business. Cerus will consider alternatives including partnering one or all of the programs, combining its immunotherapy business with another company or spinning out the business for an equity interest in a newly formed company. The company's immunotherapy work is based on an attenuated Listeria vaccine platform designed to develop therapies against cancer and chronic infectious diseases. The company has one immunotherapeutic in the clinic and a second for which an investigational new drug application is set to be filed in the middle of this year.

• Genaera Corp., of Plymouth Meeting, Pa., said its board authorized a 1-for-6 reverse stock split, effective at the close of trading May 11, 2007. On a pre-split basis, the company had about 104.7 million shares outstanding as of March 31. After the split, the number of shares outstanding will be reduced to about 17.4 million.

• InNexus Biotechnology Inc., of Vancouver, British Columbia, said New York-based Royalty Pharma agreed to purchase a royalty interest in up to two cancer products based on InNexus' Dynamic Cross Linking antibody enhancement technology. Under the terms, Royalty Pharma will buy the first royalty interest for $2 million and will hold an option to purchase a royalty interest in a second product for an additional $2 million. Royalty Pharma also will make an at-market equity investment in InNexus in the amount of $1 million. The total purchase price for the royalty interests may be increased by up to $30 million for the two products if certain conditions are fulfilled.

Lexicon Genetics Inc., of The Woodlands, Texas, said its proposed name change to Lexicon Pharmaceuticals Inc. was approved by its shareholders. In connection with the name change, Lexicon is changing its stock ticker to "LXRX," expected to be effective at the opening of trading today.

MicroIslet Inc., of San Diego, received a letter from the American Stock Exchange indicating a staff determination of Amex's intent to strike the company's common stock from the exchange. In January, MicroIslet received notice that it is not in compliance with certain continued listing standards, specifically that its stockholders' equity is less than $4 million and it has recorded losses from continuing operations and net losses in three of its four most recent fiscal years.

MPM Capital LP, of Boston, and Reliance Life Sciences, of Mumbai, India, are partnering to build India's life sciences sector, with Reliance becoming a limited partner in MPM's newest fund, MPM BioVentures IV, and will target a portion of the fund's international allocation to invest in emerging life science companies in India. Efforts also will include providing office space for a RLS investment professional dedicated to the MPM/RLS partnership and to explore the potential for a new India-only seed fund.

The National Institutes of Health said it and collaborators from Finland and elsewhere identified at least four new genetic variants associated with increased risk of Type II diabetes, and confirmed existence of another six. Findings from three groups were published simultaneously in the Dec. 26 online edition of the journal Science. Researchers used a genomewide association study of more than 2,300 Finnish people who took part in the Finland-U.S. Investigation Of NIDDM Genetics (FUSION) and Finrisk 2002 studies.

• Protein Discovery Inc., of Knoxville, Tenn., received a $750,000 Phase II Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Institutes of Health's National Center for Research Resources for commercial development of MALDIplex M5 Sample Prep Station, which uses electrophoresis to prepare biological samples for clinical mass spectrometry. The company is applying for grant funding to optimization of the system for clinical diagnostics.

• Schepens Eye Research Institute, a Boston-based affiliate of Harvard Medical School, said it identified a key mechanism for successfully transplanting tissue into the adult central nervous system. The study found that a molecule known as MMP-2, which is induced by stem cells, has the ability to break down barriers on the outer surface of a damaged retina and allow healthy donor cells to integrate and wire themselves into remaining recipient tissue. The finding was reported in the current issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

• Senomyx Inc., of San Diego, said it has expanded its existing collaborative research, development, commercialization and license agreement with Ajinomoto Co. Inc., of Tokyo, to include additional territories in the U.S. and Canada. Senomyx will work with Ajinomoto on an exclusive basis to develop and commercialize certain existing novel flavor ingredients for soup and bouillon, sauce and culinary aids, noodles, snack foods and frozen food product categories in North America. Ajinomoto has agreed to pay Senomyx an initial license fee to access the North American rights. In addition, upon commercialization, Senomyx will receive a milestone payment from Ajinomoto, as well as ongoing royalty payments based on sales of Ajinomoto products containing a Senomyx flavor ingredient. Specific terms were not disclosed.

• Spherix Inc., of Beltsville, Md., signed a letter of intent to sell the stock of its subsidiary, InfoSpherix Inc., to The Active Network Inc. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. InfoSpherix contracts with government agencies to design, host and operate park reservation services and public service contact centers. By selling that subsidiary, Spherix said it will be able to focus all of its efforts on biotech products developed by its BioSpherix division, including its lead program, Naturlose, which is set to enter Phase III testing by the end of this month in Type II diabetes.

• SR Pharma plc, of London, said the company's name will be changed to Silence Therapeutics plc. As of April 30, shares of the company will be traded under the ticker symbol "SLN" on the London Stock Exchange. In related news, the company will continue to perform pre-clinical trials of Atu027, its first systemically formulated RNAi therapeutic for oncology indications. On Tuesday, SR Pharma received a $1.5 million milestone payment from Pfizer Inc., of New York, and Quark Biotech Inc., of Fremont, Calif., when its AtuRNAi compound, RTP-801i for acute kidney injury, entered Phase I trials.

• Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in Dallas said its researchers identified the first gene, CHD7, associated with idiopathic scoliosis, the most common spinal deformity in children. They conducted genome-wide scans and follow-up studies of 53 large families, totaling 130 individuals with a confirmed idiopathic scoliosis diagnosis.

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