• Advanced Ocular Systems Ltd., of Marblehead, Mass., is receiving an Australian government grant of A1.4 million (US$1 million) to further fund exudative eye disease research at the company. Specifically, the company’s research is into conjunctivitis, corneal swelling and retinal diseases. The grant will be funded over three years.

• Albany Molecular Research Inc., of Albany, N.Y., completed the acquisition of ComGenex Inc., of Budapest, Hungary. The stock purchase agreement was disclosed in late January to acquire ComGenex, a privately held drug discovery services company that combines chemical synthesis and computational chemistry to create drug-like compounds. Financial terms were not disclosed. AMRI’s stock (NASDAQ:AMRI) closed Wednesday at $10.63, up 54 cents.

• Cytori Therapeutics Inc., of San Diego, announced the publication of a summary of peer-reviewed research, authored by Cytori scientists, on the potential of adipose stem cells in cardiac cell therapy. The article, titled "Plasticity of human adipose stem cells toward endothelial cells and cardiomyocytes," appears in the Cardiovascular Medicine Supplement of Nature Clinical Practice, March 3, 2006, and is available online at www.nature.com/clinicalpractice. Cytori’s stock (NASDAQ:CYTX) closed Wednesday at $7.25, up 1 cent.

• Dynogen Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Waltham, Mass., sold its North Carolina-based research facility to Astellas Pharma Inc., of Tokyo. The site specializes in preclinical studies for genitourinary disorders. Going forward, Dynogen said it would focus all its efforts on advancing the development of its five clinical programs and late-stage preclinical programs. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• Enzo Biochem Inc., of Farmingdale, N.Y., said its wholly owned subsidiary, Enzo Therapeutics, received approval from the Committee on Human Research at the University of California, San Francisco, to continue the clinical evaluation of its Stealth Vector HGTV43 gene construct for HIV-1 infection in a protocol that has been modified to increase the number of stem cells that engraft in the patient’s bone marrow. The trial was expected to get under way shortly. Enzo’s StealthVector HGTV gene construct will be used to transfer three antisense genes designed to interfere with the growth of HIV-1 into blood stem cells.

• Genentech Inc., of South San Francisco, said the FDA accepted its biologics license application for the use of Lucentis (ranibizumab) in the treatment of neovascular wet age-related macular degeneration, and granted a six-month priority review. That means the FDA has six months from the submission date, or by the end of June, to take action on the filing. In addition, the company released preliminary two-year data from the Phase III MARINA study showing that the improvement in the Lucentis groups at year one was maintained at year two as measured by visual acuity endpoints, while there was further deterioration of vision among patients in the control group. The difference between mean visual acuity in the Lucentis arms and the control arm increased at year two compared to year one. At least 90 percent of Lucentis patients maintained or improved vision compared to about 53 percent of those in the control arm at year two (p<0.0001). The BLA was filed at the end of last year. (See BioWorld Today, Jan. 3, 2006.)

• Genta Inc., of Berkeley Heights, N.J., said the FDA accepted the company’s new drug application for Genasense (oblimersen sodium) injection. The submission proposes the use of Genasense plus fludarabine and cyclophosphamide for patients with relapsed or refractory chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and granted a PDUFA action date of Oct. 28. Genta filed for approval based on more robust data than first reported in 2004. The company submitted the NDA at the end of last year. (See BioWorld Today, Nov. 10, 2004, and Dec. 30, 2005.)

• GenVec Inc., of Gaithersburg, Md., received an additional $1.7 million in support provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service, funded through an interagency agreement by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate, to advance the development of countermeasure vaccines to prevent the spread of foot-and-mouth disease. The company is developing candidate vaccines and antiviral agents to prevent the disease’s spread through a multiyear research collaboration with the Agricultural Research Service, and will use the additional Homeland Security funding to support activities this year. Already, a GenVec-produced adenovector system and cell line has been used to make an effective vaccine for foot-and-mouth disease.

• MorphoSys AG, of Munich, Germany, and F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd., of Basel, Switzerland, expanded their September 2000 relationship for Alzheimer’s disease into the new area of oncology antibodies. Roche will elect new target molecules against which MorphoSys will generate antibodies using its HuCAL Gold technology. Roche and MorphoSys will collaborate on two new antibody programs in oncology, with Roche responsible for preclinical and clinical development as well as marketing. MorphoSys gets an up-front payment and may receive additional research funding and future event payments totaling more than €10 million (US$11.9 million) per program, plus royalties.

• Signet Laboratories Inc., of Dedham, Mass., a diagnostics/research company specializing in monoclonal antibodies and diagnostic assays for cancer, infectious disease and neurodegenerative disease, entered a license agreement with Bayer Diagnostics Inc., of Tarrytown, N.Y., a subsidiary of Leverkusen, Germany-based Bayer AG, to conduct research on urinary trypsin inhibitor immunoassays discovered by Bayer scientists. Terms were not disclosed.

• The Biotechnology Industry Organization in Washington announced that former President Bill Clinton will deliver a plenary address in Chicago at its annual convention, BIO 2006. Clinton is an advocate for issues such as global health, and ending poverty and hunger in developing nations.

No Comments