• BioMS Medical Corp., of Edmonton, Alberta, began the open-label, follow-on portion to its MAESTRO-01 pivotal Phase II/III trial of MBP8298 for secondary progressive multiple sclerosis. Eligible patients who successfully completed the blinded, placebo-controlled MAESTRO-01 trial, which has completed enrollment of 550 patients, may choose to receive MBP8298 on an unblinded basis in MAESTRO-02, regardless of whether they were previously on placebo or drug. It primarily will evaluate the drug's long-term safety.

• Cytogen Corp., of Princeton, N.J., began the first clinical study of CYT-500, a radiolabeled monoclonal antibody targeted to prostate-specific membrane antigen. The Phase I trial will investigate its safety and tolerability and determine the optimal antibody mass and therapeutic dose for further studies. It's expected to enroll up to 36 patients.

• Debiopharm Group, of Lausanne, Switzerland, began a Phase II study of DEBIO-9902 SR implants (formerly ZT-1), the first monthly sustained-release acteylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibitor being developed for Alzheimer's patients. The double-blind trial will measure its safety and efficacy in comparison to oral donepezil. Results are expected in the first half of next year.

• Emisphere Technologies, Inc. of Tarrytown, N.Y., announced today that Novartis Pharma AG, of Basel, Switzerland, and its development partner Nordic Bioscience, of Herlev, Denmark, have initiated a Phase III trial of an oral form of salmon calcitonin, a new drug candidate that uses Emisphere's eligen-delivery technology to treat osteoporosis. In 2000, Emisphere and Novartis Pharma entered into a license agreement for the development of oral salmon calcitonin. As a result of the initiation of the trial, Emisphere will receive a milestone payment from Novartis. Novartis has received clearance from FDA to proceed with Phase III study under a special protocol assessment. The clinical trial is being conducted by Nordic Bioscience following a development agreement with Novartis.

• MAP Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Mountain View, Calif., reported Phase II data showing that its Unit Dose Budesonide (UDB) drug candidate met its primary efficacy endpoints of asthma control as assessed by changes in morning asthma symptom scores compared to placebo, and trends in forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1). The randomized, double-blind, U.S.-based study aimed to assess its efficacy at two doses in patients as young as a year old. UDB is a nebulized formulation of budesonide for pediatric asthma. The high dose evaluated in the study was equivalent to the lowest dose available of the currently marketed nebulized budesonide product.

• Panacos Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Watertown, Mass., has initiated a Phase I trial of PA-040, an investigational maturation inhibitor for the treatment of HIV. The study is designed to evaluate the safety and pharmacokinetic properties of PA-040 in humans after a single dose. Maturation inhibition is a new target discovered by Panacos scientists and their academic collaborators. In vitro studies with PA-040 have shown that the compound has a lower level of binding to human serum proteins than bevirimat, and thus the potential ability to have activity against HIV strains that exhibit partial bevirimat resistance. Furthermore, PA-040 retains wild-type activity against one of two bevirimat-resistant HIV isolates that represent the most-frequently mutated amino acids found by in vitro resistance-selection experiments performed to date.