• Ardais Corp., of Lexington, Mass., and Cytomyx Holdings plc, of Cambridge, UK, entered a collaboration under which Cytomyx will acquire the Ardais biorepository of more than 130,000 clinically annotated biospecimens. With the transaction, Ardais said it completed its evolution to a translational medicine solutions provider.

• AVI BioPharma Inc., of Portland, Ore., announced the publication of two articles in the April 2005 Journal of Virology describing preclinical studies in which its Neugene antisense drugs were used to inhibit dengue virus and West Nile virus. The dengue virus study, "Inhibition of Dengue Virus Serotypes 1 to 4 in Vero Cell Cultures with Morpholino Oligomers," grew out of AVI's collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and showed that several Neugene candidates could reduce the amount of virus in the cells to undetectable levels. The West Nile virus study, "Inhibition of Flavivirus Infections by Antisense Oligomers Specifically Suppressing Viral Translation and RNA Replication," showed that, when treated with Neugene drug candidates, viral levels were reduced substantially (up to a millionfold), without any apparent cell toxicity.

• Cardiome Pharma Corp., of Vancouver, British Columbia, said that the underwriters of its recently completed public offering exercised their overallotment option in full, purchasing about an additional 1.3 shares for gross process of about $7.6 million. The combined gross proceeds and the exercise of the overallotment totaled about $58.6 million. Cardiome is focused on developing drugs to treat or prevent cardiovascular diseases. (See BioWorld Today, March 21, 2005.)

• Connetics Corp., of Palo Alto, Calif., said the lead purchaser in its recent private placement of $150 million in principal amount of 2 percent convertible senior notes maturing March 30, 2015, exercised its right to purchase an additional $50 million in notes. The notes will be convertible into cash and, under specified circumstances, shares of Connetics common stock at an initial conversion price of about $35.46 per share. The sale of the additional $50 million is expected to close today. Connetics said proceeds will go toward general corporate purposes.

• Corautus Genetics Inc., of Atlanta, said, as a result of its scheduled interim safety analysis, the independent monitoring committee recommended the continuation of GENASIS (Genetic Angiogenic Stimulation Investigational Study), a Phase IIb trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of vascular endothelial growth factor-2 in patients with severe angina. The analysis was conducted after the first 54 patients were treated.

• Crucell NV, of Leiden, Netherlands, signed a PER.C6 research license agreement with Tel Aviv, Israel-based Vascular Biogenics Ltd., which will use the PER.C6 cell line for the preparation and evaluation of gene therapeutics based on adenoviral vectors. Under terms of the agreement, Vascular Biogenics will make a research license payment and annual maintenance fees. Further financial details were not disclosed.

• Cyntellect Inc., of San Diego, entered a research agreement with Daiichi Suntory Pharma Co. Ltd., of Tokyo, to use Cyntellect's high-throughput cell imaging and laser-based cell manipulation technology, LEAP, for drug discovery. Cyntellect will design, configure and run LEAP cell-based assays against a compound collection provided by Daiichi. Specific financial terms were not disclosed.

• Evident Technologies, of Troy, N.Y., introduced a second-generation Type II EviTag luminescent label. The T2 EviTag has a natural coating that provides increased flexibility, easier use, wider applications and, possibly, reduced testing costs in biological assays and other types of life science research, Evident said.

• ExonHit Therapeutics SA, of Paris, added a nuclear receptor and co-regulator array to its SpliceArray Service business unit. The service provides ExonHit's splice variant content, probe design and customized analysis with Palo Alto, Calif.-based Agilent Technologies Inc.'s microarray platform.

• Human Genome Sciences Inc., of Rockville, Md., began dosing patients in a Phase I trial to evaluate the safety, tolerability and pharmacology of CCR5 in patients infected with HIV-1 who are not receiving concurrent antiretroviral therapy. The primary objective is to evaluate CCR5 mAb, a fully human monoclonal antibody that recognizes and binds the chemokine receptor CCR5, in escalating doses, while secondary objectives are to determine the pharmacokinetics of the product, as well as to assess its effect on plasma HIV-1 viral load and on CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell counts over time.

• Icagen Inc., of Research Triangle Park, N.C., said a multiple-dose safety, tolerability and pharmacokinetic Phase Ib study did not support continued development of ICA-69673 for the oral treatment of epilepsy and neuropathic pain. The company is performing preclinical studies on other lead compounds in order to select a backup compound.

ID Biomedical Corp., of Vancouver, British Columbia, completed the enrollment of 1,000 subjects for its Fluviral trial intended to support accelerated approval in the U.S. The randomized, double-blind, comparator-controlled study is designed to evaluate the safety and immunogenicity of Fluviral in healthy adults.

• InterMune Inc., of Brisbane, Calif., said a recent end-of-Phase II meeting with the FDA focused on the completed development work supporting the design of a Phase III program of pirfenidone in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. As previously disclosed, InterMune also plans to conduct a Phase III program of pirfenidone in Hermansky-Pudlak Syndrome. If InterMune reaches an agreement with regulatory authorities, the company said it could initiate the Phase III programs during the first half of 2006.

• LAB International Inc., of Laval, Quebec, initiated patient enrollment for the Phase II trial of its lead product, Fentanyl Taifun, a fast-acting fentanyl formulation delivered using the company's Taifun dry-powder inhaler platform. The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial is investigating the efficacy and safety of Fentanyl Taifun for the treatment of breakthrough cancer pain. The trial is enrolling 112 cancer patients on maintenance opioid therapy for persistent pain.

• Maxygen Inc., of Redwood City, Calif., said it earned a milestone in its collaboration with Basel, Switzerland-based F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd. to develop improved interferon-alpha protein therapeutics to treat hepatitis B and C. The companies are completing late-stage preclinical studies and GMP manufacturing and said they are on track to file an investigational new drug application to begin Phase I trials in 2006. Maxygen and Roche established an alliance in May 2003. The potential $230 million agreement provides for Maxygen to receive development funding, milestone payments and royalties on product sales. Maxygen also has the option, prior to initiation of Phase III trials, to co-develop in the U.S. any product to which Roche acquires a license in exchange for an increased royalty or profit sharing. (See BioWorld Today, May 23, 2003.)

• NicOx SA, of Sophia-Antipolis, France, received a payment of €1 million from New York-based Pfizer Inc. in connection with their August 2004 agreement. The deal granted Pfizer an option to acquire an exclusive worldwide license to NicOx's preclinical nitric oxide-donating compounds. NicOx could receive a further €35 million in milestone payments if the agreement results in the successful development of a commercial product.

• NPS Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Salt Lake City, said its European partner, Nycomed Group, of Raskilde, Denmark, received confirmation from the European Medicines Agency that is has begun assessment of the market authorization application for Preotact, the European trade name for Preos (parathyroid hormone). The product is in development by NPS for post-menopausal osteoporosis, and the company said it is in the final stages of preparing a new drug application for Preos in the U.S.

• Predix Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Woburn, Mass., initiated two Phase Ib multiple-dose studies with PRX-03140, its serotonin 4 receptor agonist intended to treat Alzheimer's disease and other disorders of memory and cognition. The primary objectives are to evaluate the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of the compound over a 14-day period. The first study will include more than 32 healthy volunteers, while the second study will include patients with Alzheimer's disease.

• Protein Polymer Technologies Inc., of San Diego, reported the expansion of its license agreement with Genencor International Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif., and receipt of an associated payment. The license agreement initially was established in December 2000, granting Genencor worldwide exclusive rights to industrial applications of PPTI's protein polymer design and production technology. The licensed rights were expanded to include personal care product applications. PPTI continues to retain all rights to its technology for use in the development and commercialization of medical products. The payment received, and additional annual payments through 2010, are in consideration for the amended license rights. Royalties also would be payable. Separately, PPTI said it will restate certain financial aspects of its annual report for the fiscal year ended Dec. 31, 2003, in connection with the accounting treatment of transactions related to the issuance of convertible preferred stock and warrants during the year.

• pSivida Ltd., of Perth, Australia, said its UK manufacturing partner, Atomising Systems Ltd., reached a key milestone in the manufacture of BrachySil, its lead product, by completing construction of a dedicated cleanroom facility to GMP specifications at its Sheffield, UK, plant. The milestone will enable pSivida to increase BrachySil production in support of both larger clinical trials for advanced liver cancer and new Phase IIa trials in a second cancer indication planned for later this year, and for future commercialization.

• Replicor Inc., of Laval, Quebec, said it will present three papers in April at the 18th International Conference on Antiviral Research in Barcelona, Spain, on its antiviral drug REP 9. The drug has shown in vitro efficacy against 12 different families of viruses, including HIV, hepatitis B and herpes viruses. It has been shown to be well tolerated and to have significant efficacy in vivo in animal models of six different viral infections.

• SurModics Inc., of Eden Prairie, Minn., obtained an option to acquire an exclusive license from Rutgers University to two classes of biodegradable polymers for use in site-specific delivery of drugs to the eye. By combining the polymer families with its drug delivery platform technologies, SurModics expects to deliver a variety of drugs and other bioreactive agents to the eye, treating diseases such as age-related macular degeneration and diabetic macular edema.

• TheraQuest Biosciences LLC, of Blue Bell, Pa., reported Phase II trial results for its intravenous ketoprofen (TQ-1011) product at the American Pain Society's 24th annual scientific meeting in Boston. TQ-1011 is an injectable formulation of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug ketoprofen and is being developed for the management of moderate to severe post-surgical pain. A total of 130 patients participated in the double-blind, randomized trial comparing the analgesic efficacy and safety of IV doses of ketoprofen at 50 mg and 100 mg with morphine sulfate 4 mg and placebo, in patients with moderate to severe pain after third molar surgery. On every pain measure, ketoprofen 50 mg and 100 mg IV were superior to IV morphine and placebo (p<0.001).

• V.I. Technologies Inc., of Watertown, Mass., received formal notification that the company has regained compliance with the minimum bid and shareholder equity requirements for continued listing on the Nasdaq National Market. That brings Vitex into full compliance with the requirements and no further actions are needed.