• Advanced Life Sciences Holdings Inc., of Woodridge, Ill., was awarded a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research grant to investigate its small-molecule therapeutic, ALS-886, in brain swelling leading to tissue damage following stroke in preclinical testing. The grant was funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and is being conducted in collaboration with scientists at Duke University in Durham, N.C.

• Affymetrix Inc., of Santa Clara, Calif., and Iconix Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Mountain View, Calif., signed a collaborative agreement to develop solutions to aid in the study of toxicological and pharmacological properties of drugs and drug candidates. The collaboration will aim to significantly accelerate the drug development process by combining Affymetrix's GeneChip microarray technology with Iconix's DrugMatrix 640 compound reference database and analysis software.

• CepTor Corp., of Hunt Valley, Md., hired Banyan Biomarkers Inc., of Alachua, Fla., to identify a biomarker assay that evaluates the usefulness of Myodur for treating Duchenne's muscular dystrophy in children. The principle behind Myodur's development is to normalize the activity of calpain, and CepTor said the biomarker of interest would provide a real time measure of specific breakdown products that are a unique fingerprint of calpain activity.

• Chiron Corp., of Emeryville, Calif., said the SEC terminated its investigation of company violations related to federal securities laws in connection with the suspension in 2004 by UK regulatory authorities of its license to manufacture Fluvirin influenza virus vaccine. The SEC also has ended its inquiry into the company's restatement of financial results for the second and third quarters of 2004. Chiron also was informed that no enforcement action has been recommended in connection with those matters. (See BioWorld Today, Oct. 6, 2004.)

• Ciphergen Biosystems Inc., of Fremont, Calif., extended its existing relationship with Sanofi-Aventis Group, of Paris, by signing a collaborative research agreement to concentrate on discovery, validation and identification of biomarkers for a preclinical drug efficacy study in oncology. Ciphergen will analyze samples using its suite of proteomic solutions. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• CSL Ltd., of Melbourne, Australia, said it plans to introduce its influenza vaccine into the U.S. market. The company said it would make a $60 million investment in plant and equipment to double capacity at its home facility to about 40 million doses per season. CSL plans to begin a clinical study of the vaccine later this year and submit a biologics license application within 12 months for both multidose vial and thimerosal-free single-dose syringe products.

• Geron Corp., of Menlo Park, Calif., launched a new immortalized human cell line available through ATCC. The new line, T HESC, is a human endometrium fibroblast-like cell line immortalized with human telomerase reverse transcriptase.

• Hybrigenics SA, of Paris, acquired a license for the worldwide, exclusive rights to inecalcitol, a synthetic vitamin D analogue, for all clinical indications. Hybrigenics intends to focus on an oral formulation for cancer indications, such as advanced androgen-independent prostate cancer. Inecalcitol was discovered by a team of Belgian scientists from the Catholic University of Leuven, and then developed up to Phase II in psoriasis by Theramex, an affiliate of Darmstadt, Germany-based Merck KGaA. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• Idenix Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., and Novartis AG, of Basel, Switzerland, submitted a marketing authorization application for approval of the 600-mg dose of telbivudine for chronic hepatitis B. The companies previously submitted a new drug application in the U.S. for approval of telbivudine, an orally active, once-daily nucleoside analogue, and Novartis expects to file for marketing approval in Asian markets later this quarter. (See BioWorld Today, Jan. 4, 2006.)

• Oscient Pharmaceuticals Corp., of Waltham, Mass., sublicensed the commercialization rights to Factive (gemifloxacin mesylate) tablets in Mexico to Pfizer SA de CV, a division of Pfizer Inc., of New York. In exchange, Pfizer Mexico agreed to pay Oscient an up-front payment and milestones for attaining certain regulatory and sales goals, as well as royalties on future sales. More specific financial terms were not disclosed.

• Procyon Biopharma Inc., of Montreal, said preclinical results reported at the Miami Nature Biotechnology Winter Symposium detailed its dual-targeting drug for solid tumors and their vasculature, TVT-Dox (Tumor Vasculature Targeting liposomal doxorubicin). The data confirmed its selective binding capability to endothelial cells in tumor blood vessels and its effective delivery of the doxorubicin to the tumor blood vessels and adjacent tumor cells. Upon its binding to the specific tumor receptor, CD13 isoform, TVT-Dox is internalized into tumor vascular endothelial cells and releases doxorubicin to disrupt tumor vasculature.

• ReNeuron Group plc, of Guildford, UK, signed a manufacturing contract with Angel Biotechnology Holdings plc, of Cramlington, UK. Angel will scale up ReNeuron's ReN005 stem cell line for Huntington's disease, initially producing a master cell bank to Good Manufacturing Practice standards.

• Serologicals Corp., of Atlanta, said its wholly owned subsidiary Chemicon International Inc., entered a research and development agreement with Cellumen Inc., of Pittsburgh, to commercialize a cytotoxicity profiling panel and services designed with Chemicon and Upstate's cellular assay reagents and Cellumen's system cell biology approach. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., and Orion Integrated Biosciences Inc. signed an agreement to facilitate the development of diagnostic methods for key viral pathogens. Under the terms, information on encephalic and hemorrhagic viruses from VBI's PathPort project will be integrated into Orion's Integrated Computational Analysis System. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• ViroPharma Inc., of Exton, Pa., said the FDA named maribavir a fast-track product for preventing cytomegalovirus infection in allogeneic bone marrow (stem cell) and solid organ transplant patients. In November, the company completed enrollment in a Phase II study of the oral antiviral drug candidate in recipients of bone marrow transplant, and expects to release preliminary data by the end of this quarter. .

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