• Advancis Pharmaceutical Corp., of Germantown, Md., completed enrollment ahead of schedule in its pediatric amoxicillin Pulsys Phase III trial to treat pharyngitis/tonsillitis due to Group A streptococcal infections. The trial has enrolled 571 patients who will complete their treatment and follow-up visits over the coming weeks. Top-line results should be available in July.

• Anadys Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, filed a shelf registration statement to allow Anadys to offer and sell from time to time up to $75 million of its common stock. Proceeds would be used for purposes described in a prospectus at the time of an offering. Anadys is developing ANA975, an oral prodrug of isatoribine to treat hepatitis C virus and hepatitis B virus, and ANA380 to treat hepatitis B virus.

• Avitar Inc., of Canton, Mass., entered a $750,000 private placement of convertible preferred stock and warrants with Cornell Capital Partners LP, of Jersey City, N.J. Gross proceeds of $375,000 were raised at the first closing and the second tranche of $375,000 gross proceeds are expected at the second closing within 30 days or less. The securities issued in the private placement are $750,000 of Series E convertible preferred stock and warrants to purchase 75,000 shares of common stock. Prior to the $750,000 private placement, Avitar and Cornell Capital Partners terminated the previously announced standby equity distribution agreement signed in February 2005.

• Depomed Inc., of Menlo Park, Calif., adopted a shareholder rights plan in the event of an attempted takeover of the company. The plan is intended to deter an attempt to unfairly gain control of the company and ensures that the board can consider acquisition proposals in the best interests of shareholders. Depomed has received an approvable letter from the FDA for once-daily Glumetza to treat Type II diabetes, and it has filed a new drug application for Proquin to treat urinary tract infections.

• Diversa Corp., of San Diego, said the April 22, 2005, issue of Science published research demonstrating for the first time that microbial DNA can be used to accurately diagnose the health and vitality of any type of environment. The research, led by the Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute in collaboration with Diversa, makes it possible to create DNA-based metabolic profiles of rivers, lakes, streams, farmlands and oceans, and to use those profiles to determine levels of pollution, monitor specific areas undergoing remediation, or assess animal and human health.

• Genaissance Pharmaceuticals Inc., of New Haven, Conn., closed a two-year, $4.5 million loan at 5 percent interest with Xmark Funds and affiliates. Proceeds were used to repay the remaining $2.5 million term loan with Comerica Bank and to provide additional working capital. The company also issued warrants to Xmark Funds and affiliates to purchase 2 million shares of Genaissance common stock at $2.25 per share.

• The Immune Response Corp., of Carlsbad, Calif., presented results from a Phase II trial with Remune, its lead HIV immune-based therapy that was designed to explore the potential use of Remune and immunological information. Data demonstrated a stabilization of CD4+ cell counts indicating that antiretroviral-na ve patients treated with Remune showed immune responses against HIV. Seventy-eight percent of Remune patients demonstrated a stabilized CD4+ count, defined as a loss of less than 50 cells or any increase in CD4+ cells, throughout the course of the trial. The results were presented at the 11th conference of the British HIV Association in Dublin, Ireland.

• Metabasis Therapeutics Inc., of San Diego, said its partner, Costa Mesa, Calif.-based Valeant Pharmaceuticals Inc., presented experimental results at the European Association for the Study of the Liver in Paris of pradefovir (formerly remofovir) in patients infected with hepatitis B virus. Studies showed that daily doses up to 60 mg per day of the drug were well tolerated for 28 days, and administrations of the drug were associated with statistically significant reductions in serum HBV DNA, a measure of viral load. Pradefovir, developed using Metabasis' HepDirect liver-targeting prodrug technology, is a prodrug of the proven hepatitis B drug adefovir.

• MIV Therapeutics Inc., of Vancouver, British Columbia, said reports from independent researchers evaluating its delivery solution in short-term animal studies suggested safety and biocompatibility with its HAp coating combined with paclitaxel-eluting non-polymeric composite. The study evaluated MIV's HAp (hydroxyapatite)-based coatings designed for drug-eluting cardiovascular stents and other implantable medical devices.

• Neurologix Inc., of Fort Lee, N.J., said an overview of its Phase I gene therapy trial to treat Parkinson's disease was presented at the 73rd annual meeting of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons held in New Orleans. The presentation highlighted the rationale for targeting the overactive subthalamic nucleus in Parkinson's disease patients with the glutamic acid decarboxylase gene, which synthesizes the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain, gamma-aminobutyric acid. The surgical gene therapy procedure has been completed on 11 patients.

• Peakdale Molecular Ltd., of Chapel-en-le-Frith, UK, announced the extension of its agreement with London-based GlaxoSmithKline plc to provide ongoing services for the Respiratory and Inflammation Centre of Excellence for Drug Discovery. Under the agreement extension through 2005, GSK will continue to make use of Peakdale's synthetic chemistry abilities and also include support for GSK's Cardiovascular and Urogenital CEDD. Further financial details were not disclosed.

• Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Tarrytown, N.Y., said data from clinical and preclinical studies of the VEGF and IL-1 Traps used in eye diseases, oncology and inflammatory diseases will be presented at three upcoming medical conferences in May and June. The company also said it has completed small pilot studies in healthy volunteers examining the effects of the IL-1 Trap on a systemic marker of inflammation. Results of the study will be submitted for presentation at a cardiovascular conference later this year.

• Serono SA, of Geneva, reported in its first-quarter results that its product sales were up 6.7 percent from last year to total $551.4 million, due in part to its multiple sclerosis product, Rebif, reaching a U.S. market share of 18.5 percent of total prescriptions and 22.4 percent of new prescriptions at the end of the quarter. Sales of psoriasis drug Raptiva totaled $4.5 million, and Serono said it is reimbursed in 12 countries, including the Netherlands, Spain, Italy and Norway. Excluding a one-time exceptional charge of $725 million, the company's total operating costs increased by 11.8 percent this quarter to $494.2 million. The $725 million related to the previously reported investigation into the company's Serostim marketing practices. Though no final agreement has been reached, Serono's discussions with the U.S. Attorney's Office have advanced to a point where the company said it was appropriate to take a provision believed to be sufficient to cover a resolution of the investigation. This one-time charge results in a net loss of $567.7 million for the first quarter.

• Synta Pharmaceuticals Corp., of Lexington, Mass., set its price range for its initial public offering of 6 million shares at between $14 and $16 per share. The company filed a prospectus in January stating that proceeds from the offering, which at that range could total about $84 million to $96 million, would be used to advance its product pipeline, including two products in Phase II trials for inflammatory disease and cancer. Funds will also be used for other clinical and preclinical work, in addition to covering corporate expenses and the costs of potential acquisitions or investments in complementary technologies, products or companies. New York-based Morgan Stanley is to act as managing underwriter, with Lehman Brothers and Lazard acting as co-managers. (See BioWorld Today, Jan. 20, 2005.)

• Telik Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif., formed an agreement to collaborate with researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine to use Telik's drug discovery technology, TRAP, to discover and evaluate active small molecules for new cancer targets. TRAP (targeted-related affinity profiling) measures the binding of a small molecule to a reference panel of proteins to create a profile for each compound. It can identify molecules that interact selectively with a disease-related protein target by screening as few as 200 computationally selected compounds.

• VaxGen Inc., of Brisbane, Calif., entered an amended lease agreement to secure space to support the production of its recombinant anthrax vaccine. The new lease replaces VaxGen's previous sublease for about 50,000 square feet and provides an additional 55,000 square feet to use for quality assurance, quality control and research and development and other functions. The company has an $878 million contract to supply anthrax vaccine to the U.S. government. (See BioWorld Today, Nov. 8, 2004.)

• Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis reported that a newly developed monoclonal antibody can cure mice infected with the West Nile virus. Scientists said, in a strain of mice that normally only has a survival rate of about 10 percent after being infected, single doses of the antibodies administered soon after infection could boost survival rates to 90 percent or higher. Macrogenics Inc., of Rockville, Md., contributed to the study and has licensed the antibody from Washington University for further preclinical testing.