• Acacia Research Corp., of Newport Beach, Calif., said its CombiMatrix group received $2 million through the 2007 Defense Appropriations Bill to continue development of microarray technologies for the detection of biological threat agents and infectious pathogens such as Eurasian Influenza A Virus (H5N1). CombiMatrix has received U.S. government grants totaling $15 million since March 2004.

• Applied Genetics Inc. Dermatics, of Freeport, N.Y., raised $5.5 million in a Series A financing to drive growth of its recently launched Remergent cosmeceutical line and to extend clinical studies of its Dimericine lotion for prevention of skin cancer. The round was led by Trevi Health Ventures LP, of New York, and included participation from WHI Group and select private investors. AGI Dermatics specializes in the commercial applications of DNA repair, photobiology, new active ingredients and skin delivery systems.

• Biovitrum AB, of Stockholm, Sweden, and Synphora AB, of Uppsala, Sweden, signed an agreement regarding Synphora's JB991, a prostaglandin derivative for psoriasis and other conditions. Biovitrum will pay a maximum of SEK5 million (US$678,739) to fund Synphora's ongoing Phase I trial and potentially a Phase II study to follow, in exchange for the option to acquire the product after Phase IIa at predetermined terms. Biovitrum also issued 162,600 shares at SEK59 per share, generating net proceeds of about SEK9.6 million.

• Crucell NV, of Leiden, the Netherlands, received a $16.2 million contract from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., for the design and development of an HIV vaccine. The program focuses on the use of live viral vectors, and a number of HIV genes will be tested for insertion into them. The best antigens will be selected for development into products suitable for Phase I and II trials.

• DOV Pharmaceutical Inc., of Somerset, N.J., said it plans to implement a new strategic direction to focus its internal efforts on its Phase I and II programs for neuropsychiatric disorders and advance its later-stage drug development programs through external partnerships and collaborations, further reducing its cash expenditures in the process. The company is seeking to partner its Phase III pain drug bicifadine and terminate its license agreement with Merck & Co. Inc., of Whitehouse Station, N.J., around DOV 21,947 for depression. However, DOV is looking to retain its partnership with Merck on DOV 216,303. The company also is working to avoid delisting by Nasdaq, which would require DOV to purchase $70 million worth of its notes.

• EpiCept Corp., of Englewood Cliffs, N.J., submitted a market authorization application to the European Medicines Agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal Products for Ceplene (histamine dihydrochloride), the firm's lead oncology product candidate, administered in conjunction with interleukin-2 for the maintenance of first remission in patients with acute myeloid leukemia.

• Exelixis Inc., of South San Francisco, said underwriters exercised in full their option to purchase 1.5 million shares of common stock associated with Exelixis' public stock offering that priced at $8.40 per share, before underwriting discounts and commissions, on Oct. 4. The move increases the size of the offering to a total of 11.5 million shares of common stock, resulting in net proceeds to Exelixis of about $90.5 million.

• GenVec Inc., of Gaithersburg, Md., expanded its contract with the Vaccine Research Center (VRC) of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for the development and manufacturing of adenovector-based HIV vaccines. The expansion adds up to $3.6 million to the program, bringing the total to $53 million through 2008. An initial vaccine candidate has been administered to more than 300 volunteers in Phase I studies, and Phase II trials are under way.

• Genzyme Corp., of Cambridge, Mass., increased its offer to purchase AnorMED Inc., of Vancouver, British Columbia, to $13.50 per share, or $580 million. The proposal represents a 12.5 percent premium over that proposed last month by Millennium Pharmaceuticals Inc., also of Cambridge, and is the latest in a bidding war that has surfaced in recent weeks. Millennium's $12-per-share offer values AnorMED at $515 million. Both suitors are contending for control of Mozobil, AnorMED's lead product candidate that's in Phase III testing for use in hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Genzyme first offered $8.55 per share. Of note, Genzyme has cash on hand to make the purchase without depleting its reserves, which isn't the case for Millennium. (See BioWorld Today, Aug. 31, 2006, and Sept. 27, 2006.)

• Gilead Sciences Inc., of Foster City, Calif.; Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., of New York; and Merck & Co. Inc., of Whitehouse Station, N.J.; submitted a marketing authorization application to the EMEA for Atripla (efavirenz 600 mg/emtricitabine 200 mg/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate 300 mg). Atripla was approved by the FDA in July 2006 for HIV treatment either as stand-alone therapy or in combination with other antiretroviral agents and is the only once-daily, single pill HIV treatment regimen.

• ImClone Systems Inc., of New York, said Chairman David Kies resigned from the company's board, as did William Crouse. Both were under pressure from new investor Carl Icahn, who had been seeking their ouster.

• Macroflux Corp., of Mountain View, Calif., raised $75 million to begin operations as a transdermal drug development company. Its products are based on a small patch and applicator intended to provide a needle-free solution for transdermal delivery of therapeutic proteins, peptides and vaccines. The company is a spinout of ALZA Corp., a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, of New Brunswick, N.J. ALZA is retaining an equity stake in Macroflux. The financing was led by Nomura Phase4 Ventures, and also includes New Enterprise Associates and HBM Partners.

• MacroGenics Inc., of Rockville, Md., said MGA031, a humanized, Fc-engineered anti-CD3 monoclonal antibody, received orphan-drug designation from the FDA for recent-onset Type I diabetes. The company plans to start a Phase II/III study in the fourth quarter.

• mtm laboratories AG, of Heidelburg, Germany, raised €22 million (US$27.9 million) in a Series C financing to support clinical development and commercialization of its in vitro diagnostic (IVD) test systems for the early detection and diagnosis of cervical cancer. mtm is developing and clinically validating the cell-based CINtec Assays and the biochemical Cervatec Assay, both of which are based on the p16(INK4a) biomarker, which is over-expressed in cervical cancer. HBM BioVentures and HBM BioCapital, two funds managed by HBM Partners AG, led the financing, which included existing investors Heidelberg Innovation and Wellington Partners and new investors Nexus Medical Partners and SwissFirst Bank.

• Nautilus Biotech, of Paris, submitted an investigational new drug filing to the FDA for injectable Belerofonm its protease-resistant, long-lasting interferon alpha. The candidate has potential for the treatment of various diseases, including chronic hepatitis C, Nautilus said.

• Omrix Biopharmaceuticals Inc., of New York, signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., whereby the parties will perform collaborative research to develop new antibody-based therapeutics for avian influenza. Already the parties are working on the clinical development of an immunotherapy product for West Nile virus, and Omrix has received grant funding for the development of a second-generation high-titer vaccinia immunoglobulin product.

• OPi SA, of Lyon, France, and Vaccinex Inc., of Rochester, N.Y., entered a licensing agreement in which OPi was granted exclusive worldwide rights to OPR-003, a fully human anti-interleukin-6 antibody and to several alternate antibodies. Vaccinex selected the antibody using its ActivMab discovery technology, is eligible for milestone payments and royalties and will have the opportunity to participate as a co-development partner in certain markets. No other financial details were disclosed.

• Stem Cell Innovations Inc., of Scotch Plains, N.J., is collaborating with Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston through a material transfer agreement in which the institute will evaluate PluriCells for their capacity to form the human tissues implicated in hearing loss. In return, the company will receive a nonexclusive license to intellectual property generated using the PluriCells.

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