• Advanced Biotherapy Inc., of Woodland Hills, Calif., entered an initial memorandum of understanding with Columbus, Ohio-based Battelle for the development and use of monoclonal antibodies to treat humans and animals exposed to anthrax and plague, as well as for autoimmune diseases. They intend to enter further collaborative relationships for using anti-cytokine therapy against those indications.

• Biogen Idec Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., and Elan Corp. plc, of Dublin, Ireland, were notified that the FDA would extend its regulatory review of the multiple sclerosis drug, Tysabri (natalizumab), by up to 90 days. The agency, which was scheduled to make a decision later this month, now will have until June 28, 2006, to take action. Earlier this month, an FDA advisory panel unanimously recommended a return to the market for Tysabri, which was pulled voluntarily about a year ago following reports of a link between the drug and cases of a potentially fatal disorder. Following news of the delayed action date, shares of Biogen (NASDAQ:BIBB) fell $1.03 Wednesday to close at $47.28, and shares of Elan (NYSE:ELN) closed at $13.78, down 57 cents. (See BioWorld Today, March 9, 2006.)

• Codexis Inc., of Redwood City, Calif., signed a research agreement to develop a synthetic process for Kenilworth, N.J.-based Schering-Plough Corp. The collaboration will focus on improving biocatalyst productivity using Codexis’ MolecularBreeding pharmaceuticals process re-engineering platform. Codexis will receive research funding and milestone payments upon completion of certain objectives. Specific terms were not disclosed.

• Neuren Pharmaceuticals Ltd., of North Sydney, Australia, said preclinical results for the oral administration of NNZ-2566 demonstrated significant neuroprotection at various doses, with almost total protection (95 percent reduction in injury size) being obtained with the highest dose. Non-oral administration of the NNZ-2566 class of drugs already has shown efficacy in Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease animal models, and the intravenous administration is in trials with the U.S. Army for traumatic brain injury.

• Senesco Technologies Inc., of New Brunswick, N.J., reported results from a preclinical animal study showing that its elF-5A1 (also known as Factor 5A) gene technology increases the survivability of islets isolated for transplantation. When using a small interfering RNA designed to down-regulate the expression of elF-5A1, researchers observed a significant increase in the survival of insulin-producing islets when mice received an infusion of the siRNA to elF-5A1, compared to a control RNA. Data also showed that the death of islets resulting from exposure to IL-1beta and interferon-gamma was significantly reduced.

• Tripos Inc., of St. Louis, said that its Bude, UK-based division, Tripos Discovery Research Ltd., formed a collaboration with Cara Therapeutics Inc., of Tarrytown, N.Y., to support Cara’s drug discovery programs in pain and inflammation. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• VistaGen Therapeutics Inc., of Burlingame, Calif., and Boston-based Cato BioVentures, the venture capital affiliate of Cato Research Ltd., signed a strategic business development agreement granting VistaGen exclusive rights of first negotiation to all central nervous system product opportunities identified or acquired by Cato. VistaGen uses embryonic stem cell technology to discover drugs for CNS diseases, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, and expects to file its first investigational new drug application in the first half of 2007 for AV-101 in epilepsy and neuropathic pain.