• Avanti Polar Lipids Inc., of Alabaster, Ala., was awarded a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research Grant from the National Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases to test a food supplement, Lym-X-Sorb in cystic fibrosis patients. Lym-X-Sorb is designed to allow absorption of essential fatty acids and choline. The trial will enroll 78 CF patients, 6 years and older, with pancreatic insufficiency to evaluate the drug's effects over 18 months on patients' essential fatty acid status, fat soluble vitamin status, respiratory and pulmonary functions, growth rate and overall health.

• Avid Radiopharmaceuticals Inc., of Philadelphia, and Schering AG, of Berlin, will collaborate to develop diagnostic imaging agents for Alzheimer's disease. The compounds, created by Avid, are designed to directly bind to the amyloidal plaques in the brain believed to cause the disease. Under terms of the agreement, Schering will have the option to assume exclusive rights for the development and commercialization of such compounds for use with PET scanning technology. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• CuraGen Corp., of Branford, Conn., and TopoTarget A/S, of Copenhagen, Denmark, began dosing patients in a Phase I/II trial of PXD101, a small-molecule histone deacylate (HDAC) inhibitor, in inoperable hepatocellular cancer. The Phase I portion will evaluate safety in about 15 patients, with that number expanded to 29 for the Phase II portion focusing on safety and potential efficacy. The trial is sponsored by the National Cancer Institute.

• Forest Laboratories Inc., of New York, said the U.S. District Court determined that a patent covering escitalopram, the active ingredient in Lexapro, is valid and enforceable and is infringed by a proposed generic product by Miami-based IVAX Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Jerusalem-based Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd. The judge found in favor of Forest and partner H. Lundbeck A/S, of Copenhagen, Denmark, and confirmed that patent rights for Lexapro will not expire until 2012.

• Lorus Therapeutics Inc., of Toronto, entered an agreement with HighTech Beteiligungen GmbH & Co. KG to issue 28.8 million common shares at 35 cents each for gross proceeds of $10.4 million. In exchange, HighTech will receive demand registration rights through June 30, 2012, and have the right to nominate a member to Lorus' board.

• QBI Life Sciences, of Madison, Wisconsin, received a Phase I award from the National Institutes of Health to develop an assay that would provide an absorption profile for early stage drug candidates. The award follows the FDA's report calling on researchers to develop new tools for evaluating the safety of drug candidates early in the development process to improve pharmaceutical success rates and to reduce attrition of drug candidates. QBI will use its PreserveX Polymeric Micelles and work in collaboration with Madison, Wis.-based GWC Technologies to develop a surface plasmon resonance imaging-based microarray assay for drug absorption profiling in a standard format.

• Synarc Inc., of San Francisco, and the Center for Clinical and Basic Research A/S, of Denmark, agreed to combine their companies and operations, positioning Synarc as the parent company with CCBR as a wholly owned subsidiary. The deal would allow Synarc, which provides centralized imaging and molecular marker services, to expand to a more complete clinical trial services operation. CCBR offers expertise in patient recruitment and data management for clinical trials and scientific publication of trial results. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. The transaction will not change leadership roles at either organization.

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