• Abraxis BioScience Inc., of Los Angeles, received a $3 million milestone payment from Taiho Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., of Tokyo, for initiating a Phase I trial of Abraxane for injectable suspension. The companies entered a license agreement last year in which Abraxis granted to Taiho exclusive rights to market and sell Abraxane in Japan for breast, lung and gastric cancers and other solid tumors, in exchange for $20 million up front, plus milestones of up to $35.5 million, which excludes the milestone just received, and royalties. Abraxane was approved in the U.S. in January 2005 for patients with metastatic breast cancer who have failed prior chemotherapy. (See BioWorld Today, Nov. 17, 2005.)

• Corautus Genetics Inc., of Atlanta, said the FDA lifted the clinical hold imposed in March on its GENASIS (Genetic Angiogenic Stimulation Investigational Study) Phase IIb trial of its VEGF-2 product in patients with angina who are not suitable candidates for traditional revascularization procedures. The agency stated that the company addressed the majority of the agency's concerns, though the investigational new drug application still remains on partial hold pending the resolution of issues relating to the catheter delivery system. The delivery system is provided by partner Natick, Mass.-based Boston Scientific Corp., and both companies will continue discussions with the FDA. Corautus plans to lock the trial database and conduct analysis for efficacy and safety information, expecting to submit results to the FDA for review later this year. Corautus decided to stop patient enrollment in April, and the news sent its stock falling 68 percent to $1.07. Shares of Corautus (NASDAQ:VEGF) gained 3 cents Thursday to close at 87 cents. (See BioWorld Today, April 11, 2006.)

• Edison Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Jose, Calif., and the University of Pennsylvania were accepted into the National Institutes of Health's Rapid Access to Interventional Development Pilot Program for the development of Edison's EPI-A0001 in Friedreich's ataxia, an inherited disease caused by a defect in the gene encoding the frataxin protein. The RAID program, under the NIH Roadmap initiative, will provide drug development guidance and resources to enable the filing of an investigational new drug application. EPI-0001 recently was awarded orphan status for inherited respiratory chain diseases of the mitochondria.

• EPIX Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., which agreed to merge with Predix Pharmaceuticals Holdings Inc., of Lexington, Mass., said Berlin-based Schering AG, which is undergoing a merger with Bayer AG, of Leverkusen, Germany, is not going to exercise its option for EPIX's fibrin-binding imaging agent EP-2104R. Under the terms of the agreement, EPIX will retain full rights to the EP-2104R program. EPIX plans to pursue another collaboration. (See BioWorld Today, April 4, 2006.)

• Illumina Inc., of San Diego, signed a genotyping services agreement with Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development LLC, of Titusville, N.J. Under the terms of the agreement, Illumina will develop custom single nucleotide polymorphism content for a multi-sample Sentrix BeadChip. The BeadChip platform enables analysis of 12 samples and up to 60,000 SNPs per sample on a single BeadChip. Terms were not disclosed.

• Isogenica Ltd, of Cambridge, UK, entered a research collaboration with AstraZeneca plc, of London, which will use Isogenica's CIS display technology to discover peptides specific for, and biologically active against, targets provided by AstraZeneca.

• Nabi Biopharmaceuticals, of Rockville, Md., said the FDA's Blood Products Advisory Committee recommended approval in a 9-to-2 vote of the company's biologics license application for Nabi-HB Intravenous (hepatitis B immune globulin [human] intravenous) for the prevention of recurrence of hepatitis B following liver transplant. Nabi submitted its BLA in November 2002. Nabi-HB Intravenous has received orphan status in the U.S.

• Predix Pharmaceuticals Holdings Inc., of Lexington, Mass, received a milestone payment from Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Therapeutics Inc., the drug discovery affiliate of the Bethesda, Md.-based Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The milestone is part of a 2005 research, development and commercialization agreement to fund two research programs, the first of which focuses on the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator ion channel protein. Using its PREDICT technology, Predix modeled several domains of the protein's structure for identifying sites for therapeutic intervention. (See BioWorld Today, March 17, 2005.)

• Protiva Biotherapeutics Inc., of Vancouver, British Columbia, completed a convertible debenture financing with commitments of C$5.6 million (US$4.9 million) in its third round of financing. To date, Protiva has raised C$26 million in venture capital. Proceeds will be used to advance the company's ongoing work on its Stable Nucleic-Acid Lipid Particle technology, a system for delivering nucleic acid payloads, such as siRNAs, aptamers and plasmid DNA, to target cells. Investors participating in the round included: the Working Opportunity Fund managed by GrowthWorks Capital; BDC Capital; the Canadian Medical Discoveries Fund; and Kinetic Capital.

• Stellar Pharmaceuticals Inc., of London, Ontario, signed a licensing agreement with Bio-Technic Romania SRL, of Bucharest, Romania, to market NeoVisc, a treatment for osteoarthritis using synthetic hyaluronan, in Romania upon approval in the country.

• Zygogen LLC, of Atlanta, exclusively licensed morpholino antisense technology from the University of Minnesota to use in the inhibition of gene function in zebrafish. Terms call for the company to pay license and royalty fees to the university. Zygogen also has the right to sub-license the technology. The company uses its zebrafish technology platform to provide in vivo preclinical drug discovery services, including target validation, automated compound screening and toxicity testing.

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