• Alteon Inc., of Parsippany, N.J., said it will discontinue development of alagebrium in erectile dysfunction rather than proceeding with additional preclinical testing required by the FDA before a Phase IIa study could be initiated in that indication. Alteon instead plans to focus its resources on developing alagebrium in cardiovascular diseases. The company, which previously engaged Burrill & Co. to assist in developing and identifying strategic options, said it continues to work on this front. In separate news, Alteon reported that its chief operating officer, Judith Hedstrom resigned. Alteon's stock (AMEX:ALT) lost 7 cents, or 22 percent Wednesday, to close at 25 cents.

• Angiotech Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Vancouver, British Columbia, is acquiring privately held American Medical Instruments Holdings Inc., of Lake Forest, Ill., a manufacturer of specialty, single-use medical devices, for about C$900 million (US$790.2 million) cash. The transaction is intended to provide Angiotech with a commercial platform to capitalize on its product pipeline, supporting a range of specialty therapeutic areas. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter.

• Bio-Bridge Science Inc., of Oak Brook, Ill., released preclinical data showing that its HIV therapeutic vaccine was safe and had no side effects on the central nervous system. The vaccine, based on exclusive technology co-developed by company CEO Liang Qiao, an associate professor at Loyola University Chicago's Stritch School of Medicine, targets infection in mucosal tissues.

• Cangene Corp., of Toronto, said the FDA approved an expanded access investigational new drug protocol for the use of VariZIG, its varicella immune globulin so at-risk patients will be able to receive the drug if exposed to varicella-zoster, the virus that causes chickenpox.

• Cellegy Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Huntingdon Valley, Pa., entered a nonexclusive agreement with the Contraceptive Research and Development Organization (CONRAD) in Arlington, Va., to collaborate on the development of Cellegy's microbicide pipeline. The agreement calls for CONRAD to license Cellegy's Savvy (1 percent C31G vaginal gel), in Phase III trials in the U.S. and Africa, as well as Phase I drug candidate UC0781, and preclinical candidate Cyanovirin-N. In other news, Cellegy said Anne-Marie Corner will step down as senior vice president for women's health.

• Chiron Corp., of Emeryville, Calif., reported fourth-quarter earnings of $163.8 million, or 86 cents per share, beating analysts' estimates of 51 cents per share. Full-year net income was $259 million, or $1.34 per share, compared to $127 million, or 67 cents per share in 2004. As of Dec. 31, the company had a cash position of $680.1 million. Chiron reported that it still expects the acquisition agreement with Basel, Switzerland-based Novartis AG to be completed during the first half of this year. Novartis made a bid in late October to buy Chiron for $5.1 billion. Chiron's shares (NASDAQ:CHIR) closed Wednesday at $45.63, up 3 cents. (See BioWorld Today, Nov. 1, 2005.)

• Genta Inc., of Berkeley Heights, N.J., received notice from the European Medicines Agency that its marketing authorization application for Genasense (oblimersen) was accepted for review. The application proposes the use of Genasense plus decarbazine in patients with advanced metastatic melanoma.

• Immusol Inc., of San Diego, entered a license agreement with Baylor College of Medicine in Houston for the exclusive, worldwide rights to an oncolytic viral therapy using herpes simplex viruses. The therapy has shown safety and strong efficacy in a number of preclinical animal tumor models. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• Medarex Inc., of Princeton, N.J., said Organon NV, of Oss, the Netherlands, a unit of Akzo Nobel, will use its UltiMAb Human Antibody Development System, which is designed for the discovery of fully human antibodies in mice, to generate therapeutic antibodies against disease targets discovered by Organon and/or its alliance partners. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• Primagen Holding BV, of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, signed an exclusive license agreement with bioMerieux SA, of Marcy L'Etoile, France, for a coronavirus that was discovered by the Academic Medical Centre in Amsterdam in collaboration with researchers at Primagen. The coronavirus CoV-NL63 causes severe respiratory disease in children younger than 5, and is associated with respiratory disease in adults and the elderly. The collaboration will focus on developing and commercializing a test for that disease. BioMerieux will develop and market the product, and be responsible for sublicensing agreements with other in vitro diagnostics manufacturers for this pathogen.

• Stem Cell Sciences plc, of Edinburgh, UK, entered a technology transfer agreement with the University of Edinburgh to continue a collaboration in stem cell research. SCS has worked with the university since 1994.

• Symphogen A/S, of Copenhagen, Denmark, and Biovitrum AB, of Stockholm, Sweden, entered a co-development and commercialization agreement for Sym001, Symphogen's lead product that combines 25 different recombinant anti-Rhesus D antibodies to treat both idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura and hemolytic disease in newborns. Under the terms, Symphogen receives an initial technology access fee, and will be entitled to milestone payments. Both companies will share development costs and evenly divide commercial profits. Symphogen will be responsible for marketing in North America, Central America and South America, while Biovitrum will handle marketing in Europe, Russia and the Middle East.

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