Advaxis Inc., of Princeton, N.J., completed its preclinical toxicology study of Lovaxin C for treatment of cervical, head and neck cancers. The results from the study of the Listeria Cancer Vaccine will allow Advaxis to start a Phase I/II study in cervical cancer patients.

Aptuit Inc., of Greenwich, Conn., said it will acquire Almedica International Inc., of Allendale, N.J., for an undisclosed cash consideration. Aptuit, which focuses on streamlining and supporting the drug development technology, plans to merge Almedica with the Quintiles Early Development and Packaging business units, as part of an acquisition announced July 19 and expected to close Sept. 30. Aptuit intends to invest $60 million in the combined units over the next three years. Almedica, which provides clinical trials materials to more than 150 global customers, has facilities in New Jersey and in Deeside, UK.

Celera Diagnostics, of Alameda, Calif., found links between genetic variations in four genes with an increased risk for heart attack. Celera scientists' findings will appear in the October issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics. Each of the gene variants was found to individually confer an increased risk for heart attack comparable to conventional risk factors, such as smoking and high blood pressure.

Genencor International Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif., received a grant from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to develop a process for rapid manufacture of emergency pharmaceuticals to defend against biological agents. The process will be based on Genencor's technology for large-scale manufacture of monoclonal antibodies in fungal systems.

Geneva Bioinformatics SA, of Geneva, reported the latest release of Phenyx, its protein identification platform. The release incorporates the Phenyx Web Interface, a new web-based client used to interact with the Phenyx calculation engine.

Icoria Inc., of Research Triangle Park, N.C., received a $1.2 million Phase II Small Business Innovation Research contract from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to discover biomarkers for drug-induced liver injury. The research could lead to the development of new diagnostics for identifying hepatotoxicity and the progression of liver disease, it said. The contract will support Icoria's research into serum and urine biomarkers.

Interface Biologics Inc., of Toronto, appointed Richard Sullivan president and CEO. Sullivan previously served as CEO of Cambridge, Mass.-based Atlantis Components Inc. and as chief operating officer of Salt Lake City-based Catheter Innovations. Interface is a therapeutic biomaterials company.

Invitrogen Corp., of Carlsbad, Calif., will promote and distribute the life science analysis software, including those for the analysis of 1D and 2D electrophoresis gels, of Nonlinear Dynamics, of Newcastle Upon Tyne, England. Nonlinear will provide software from its TotalLab and Progenesis lines to be added to the Invitrogen portfolio.

Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston said a multi-institutional research collaborative has begun to decipher the interplay of genes that underlies the body's response to major injuries. In a report to appear in Nature, researchers from the Inflammation and Host Response to Injury program describe their investigation into how the process of systemic inflammation alters the expression of genes within white blood cells, which could begin to explain why certain patients develop inflammatory complications following a traumatic injury. The project is supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

Maxim Pharmaceuticals, of San Diego, published its discovery of transferring receptor's role in the rapid activation of apoptosis in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Using its screening technology along with chemical genetics, Maxim scientists were able to identify the involvement of the transferring receptor as an inducer of apoptosis, determining that a site exists on the transferring receptor which, when occupied, leads to apoptosis. Maxim researchers initially identified gambogic acid as the ligand for binding and activating the transferring binding site and has commenced testing of several viable drug candidates from gambogic acid.

Mesoblast Ltd., of Melbourne, Australia, began preclinical trials at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo., in support of its investigational new drug submissions to the FDA. Mesoblast is trialing its universal adult stem cells for treatment of long bone fractures and for spinal fusion.

Origen Therapeutics Inc., of Burlingame, Calif., said a report of fully functional, human sequence monoclonal antibodies produced in chickens appears in the Sept. 7 issue of Nature Biotechnology. The report stated that the antibodies, expressed in the chicken oviduct and deposited into egg white in concentrations of 1-3 mg per egg, demonstrated a 10- to 100-fold greater cell-killing ability compared to therapeutic antibodies produced by conventional cell culture methods.

Pain Therapeutics Inc., of South San Francisco, filed a universal shelf registration statement with the SEC for up to $150 million in common stock, preferred stock, depositary shares, warrants or debt securities. Pain focuses on severe chronic pain products.

Peregrine Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Tustin, Calif., and the New Approaches to Brain Tumor Therapy Consortium initiated a clinical trial to confirm the dosing, safety and efficacy of a single intratumoral infusion of Cotara in treating glioblastoma multiforme. The trial will enroll up to 28 patients at four institutions.

Reaction Biology Corp., of Malvern, Pa., and Key Organics Ltd., of Cornwall, UK, created a joint venture to use high-throughput drug discovery to identify a series of compounds to sell or partner with firms interested in selected targets. The companies will jointly select drug targets, with Key providing the compounds for screening and RBC contributing its DiscoveryDot screening technology. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Scolr Pharma Inc., of Bellevue, Wash., said it completed pilot bioavailability testing in Canada of its Controlled Delivery Technology (CDT) raloxifene tablets, demonstrating that the company's amino acid CDT-based platform could provide an alternative to existing solubility and permeability-enhancing practices. The testing involved 20 subjects and compared three 45-mg formulations of the CDT-based raloxifene with two controls - Evista, an immediate-release tablet for osteoporosis from Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co., and an internal control. Results showed increased bioavailability using Scolr's platform.

Spectrum Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Irvine, Calif., completed enrollment in a Phase II trial of ozarelix in hormone dependent prostate cancer ahead of schedule by more than four months. The multicenter Phase II trial is designed to evaluate the effects of ozarelix on hormonal levels, in particular testosterone, as well as objective antitumor effects. The trial involves 48 patients and is being conducted in Europe in collaboration with AEterna Zentaris Inc., of Quebec.

Sunesis Pharmaceuticals Inc., of South San Francisco, selected an Aurora kinase development candidate, SNS-314, for investigational new drug (IND)-enabling preclinical development. SNS-314 is a small-molecule kinase inhibitor that has shown promising selectivity and activity as a potential cancer therapy in in vitro and in vivo testing. The company plans to file an IND application and begin clinical trials in 2006.

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