• 4SC AG, of Martinsried, Germany, and Sanwa Kagaku Kenkyusho Co. Ltd., of Nagoya, Japan, entered a multiyear drug discovery collaboration. 4SC will apply its drug discovery platform to develop drug candidates against two specific targets provided by SKK. Using the virtual high-throughput screening technology, 4Scan, 4SC will identify new active small molecules, which then will be tested in corresponding biological screening experiments against both targets.

• Affitech AS, of Oslo, Norway, achieved a milestone for Tustin, Calif.-based Peregrine Pharmaceuticals Inc. by generating antibodies under a collaboration agreement, specifically 2C3, a mouse antibody designed to selectively block activity of vascular endothelial growth factor. No financial terms were disclosed. Peregrine said preclinical studies showed that 2C3 had antitumor activity in a variety of solid tumors, and it produced an 85 percent reduction in blood vessel formation in breast cancer metastases. Data were presented during the 7th International Symposium on Anti-Angiogenic Agents in La Jolla, Calif.

• Astex Technology Ltd., of Cambridge, UK, achieved the first milestone in its drug discovery collaboration with Ingelheim, Germany-based Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH. Financial terms were not disclosed. The collaboration, announced in March, is a three-year alliance for drug discovery in various indications, in which Astex is applying its fragment-based discovery approach, Pyramid, to generate drug molecules that are active against disease targets selected by Boehringer.

• BA Venture Partners, of Foster City, Calif., closed its $400 million Fund VII to be invested over the next four years, with an estimated $100 million to be invested in therapeutic companies. The firm said it expects its total investments in 2005 to equal or exceed that of 2004, during which the company invested $120 million in 32 companies, and drove five liquidity events, including two acquisitions and three initial public offerings.

• Bio-Matrix Scientific Group Inc., of San Diego, is developing a polymer coating for its stem cell and tissue management instruments that it said will lead to reduced friction in procedures, as well as greater predictability in outcomes for patients. The company is working with an academic institution in the coating development process.

• Cambridge Antibody Technology Group plc, of Cambridge, UK, said Abbott Laboratories, of Abbott Park, Ill., made a written application Friday to the Court of Appeal to appeal the Dec. 20 judgment, following the judge's refusal to grant permission for the company to appeal. Abbott's appeal will be heard by one judge. If the application is not successful, Abbott would be entitled to request a hearing. The judge handed down a ruling in CAT's favor late last year in its legal fight with Abbott relating to revenue shares from the blockbuster drug Humira. At issue was whether Abbott was entitled to reduce the royalty rate paid to CAT for Humira, an anti-TNF antibody. (See BioWorld Today, Dec. 22, 2004.)

• Carrington Laboratories Inc., of Irving, Texas, renewed the partnership between its wholly owned subsidiary, DelSite Biotechnologies Inc., and Southern Research Institute, of Birmingham, Ala., for one year to assist in the development and commercialization of DelSite's drug delivery technology based on the natural polymer GelSite. The original agreement was signed in January 2002.

• Cellerant Therapeutics Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif., said preclinical studies of its myeloid progenitor (MP) cell product resulted in a survival benefit in immune-compromised mice exposed to fungal infections. The company said the results, presented Monday at the joint meeting of the American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation and the Center for International Blood Marrow Transplantation, suggest that its MP product can be manufactured and given to patients like a drug, without immunologic matching required of existing cell therapies.

• Cellular Genomics Inc., of Branford, Conn., completed a performance milestone in its joint kinase discovery program with Serono SA, of Geneva, in which CGI applies its chemical genetics Analogue Sensitive Kinase Allele technology to target kinases selected by Serono. The milestone relates to the development of CGI's in vivo models for kinase drug discovery, and entitles CGI to an undisclosed performance payment.

• Chiron Corp., of Emeryville, Calif., said the SEC issued a formal order of investigation with respect to potential violations of federal securities laws. The previously announced inquiry began following the suspension of Chiron's license to manufacture its Fluvirin influenza vaccine by the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority. The company said it continues to cooperate with the ongoing investigation.

• Ciphergen Diagnostics, a division of Ciphergen Biosystems Inc., of Fremont, Calif., said it signed a research and license agreement with the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center to use the company's ProteinChip System and associated bioinformatics suites to further ongoing research in ovarian cancer.

• CoTherix Inc., of South San Francisco, said that the underwriters of its follow-on offering have exercised their overallotment option to purchase an additional 250,000 shares of common stock from CoTherix to be offered at the public offering price of $8.90 a share. The underwriters have a 10-day option to purchase up to an additional 350,000 shares to cover overallotments. CoTherix is focused on licensing, developing and commercializing products for the treatment of cardiopulmonary and other chronic diseases. The company raised $35.6 million earlier this month. (See BioWorld Today, Feb. 11. 2005.)

• Critical Therapeutics Inc., of Lexington, Mass., initiated a Phase II trial of CTI-01, an anti-inflammatory compound in development for critical-care conditions. The study, designed to determine the efficacy of the drug in preventing organ damage in patients undergoing major cardiac surgery involving the use of cardiopulmonary bypass, will enroll up to 150 patients to receive a total of six doses, administered intravenously just prior to and after surgery.

• Cytomedix Inc., of Rockville, Md., received proceeds of more than $1.4 million through the exercise of about 1.1 million warrants and options for the period between Oct. 1 and Feb. 15. Certain shareholders also converted about 1.7 million shares of the company's Series A, B and C convertible preferred stock into about 670,000 shares of common stock, representing a decrease in dividend expense of about $130,000 on an annual basis.

• Entelos Inc., of Foster City, Calif., and Organon International, of Oss, the Netherlands, plan to extend their rheumatoid arthritis collaboration signed in May 2001 to co-develop and commercialize biologic and small-molecule RA therapeutics directed at targets identified by Entelos. Organon will receive exclusive rights to the targets and access to Entelos' research capabilities, and Entelos will receive co-promotion and commercial rights for products resulting from the collaboration.

• Genaera Corp., of Plymouth Meeting, Pa., reached the target enrollment for two of three Phase II studies in wet age-related macular degeneration. The company enrolled 45 patients in a Phase II trial with squalamine for the treatment of choroidal neovascularization associated with AMD. The company completed enrollment in a multicenter, open-label pharmacokinetic and safety Phase II trial. Genaera said that squalamine is a systemically delivered anti-angiogenic drug.

• GenoMed Inc., of St. Louis, filed a patent application on two additional genes linked to common cancers, marking the third and fourth genes identified through the company's research to date. GenoMed said one of the genes is involved in protein transport within the cell, and testing for the variant might help identify the cancer at an earlier stage. The second gene is involved in signaling by a well-known hormone.

• GenVec Inc., of Gaithersburg, Md., said preclinical findings suggested that a therapeutic approach to hearing loss might be found through delivery of certain developmental genes for hair cell regrowth in the inner ear. The findings, published in the March 2005 issue of Nature Medicine, describe research conducted at the University of Michigan in which the delivery of GenVec's Atoh1 (MATH1) gene by the company's adenovector helped generate new hair cells in mature deaf guinea pigs' inner ears and improved hearing thresholds. The article is titled "Auditory Hair Cell Replacement and Hearing Improvement by Atoh1 Gene Therapy in Deaf Mammals."

• Inotek Pharmaceuticals Corp., of Beverly, Mass., said the FDA granted orphan drug designation for its lead compound, INO-1001, in the prevention of post-operative complications of aortic aneurysm repair. The drug is described as an inhibitor of poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase, a nuclear protein believed to be an activator of cell death during ischemia/reperfusion injury to the heart. Inotek said INO-1001 also is being investigated in several cancer indications.

• Inspire Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Durham, N.C., was named in a class-action lawsuit filed by Schatz & Nobel, a law firm in Hartford, Conn. The suit was filed in a U.S. district court on behalf of purchasers of the company's publicly traded securities between June 2, 2004, and Feb. 8, 2005, including purchasers in the July 26 and Nov. 11 equity offerings. The complaint alleges that Inspire violated federal securities laws by issuing false or misleading public statements regarding the primary endpoint of a Phase III trial of its dry eye drug, Diquafosol tetrasodium. Inspire's stock plummeted Feb. 9 after news that the drug missed its endpoint, falling 44.5 percent, or $7.12, to close at $8.88. (See BioWorld Today, Feb. 10, 2005.)

• Kucera Pharmaceutical Co., of Research Triangle Park, N.C., received a Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop compounds for the treatment of respiratory syncytial virus. The company said the grant will support the synthesis and evaluation of compounds in animal models of RSV.

• NovaDel Pharma Inc., of Flemington, N.J., said a pilot pharmacokinetic study involving 10 healthy male volunteers demonstrated the ability to deliver a lingual spray version of zolpidem tartrate and achieved similar blood levels faster than the currently marketed 10-mg oral tablet, Ambien (Sanofi-Aventis Group).

• Novasite Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, licensed a subscription access to Rockville, Md.-based OriGene Technologies Inc.'s TrueClone collection of 24,000 full-length human cDNAs suitable for transfection and high-throughput functional analyses. The TrueClone collection will complement Novasite's endogenously expressed receptor cell lines and jump-start its programs to screen families of GPCRs for allosteric modulators.

• OxiGene Inc., of Waltham, Mass., said preclinical data demonstrated that its lead compound, Combretastatin A4 Prodrug (CA4P), enhanced the antitumor activity of Avastin (Genentech Inc.), an anti-angiogenic agent to treat colorectal cancer. In the murine colorectal cancer model HT29, the inclusion of CA4P in a 2-week treatment period with Avastin extended the time to progression of those tumors, to five times treatment size, from 14 days to 19 days. Findings were presented Monday during a presentation at the 7th International Symposium on Anti-Angiogenic Agents conference in La Jolla, Calif.

• PharmaFrontiers Corp., of The Woodlands, Texas, completed the second tranche of its interim financing, issuing a total of $6.1 million in convertible notes. The notes will be exchanged for stock if the company raises $10 million through the sale of common stock prior to the notes' maturity on Nov. 30. About $1.6 million of the financing was closed in August. In other news, PharmaFrontiers also said it reached clinical milestones in Phase I/II trials to evaluate its T-cell therapy in multiple sclerosis. One study of its Tovaxin autologous T-cell therapy has enrolled the first group of 10 patients, who have received two doses of Tovaxin in a repeat treatment designed to determine whether patients who demonstrated clinical benefit from the therapy in a previous study can be re-treated with a second-generation T-cell therapy. In a Phase I/II dose-escalating study, six patients have completed the initial four-dose injection series for two dosage levels. The company anticipates results of the trial to be available during the third quarter.

• Point Therapeutics Inc., of Boston, completed the first stage of its Phase II single-agent study of talabostat in patients with advanced metastatic melanoma. The company is continuing to accrue patients for the second stage of the study, following a partial tumor response in a melanoma patient with lung metastases who previously failed IL-2 treatment. The trial is an open-label, single-arm study in up to 30 patients.

• pSivida Ltd., of Perth, Australia, said data from the second patient cohort of a Phase IIa trial in inoperable primary liver cancer demonstrated that BrachySil is safe and effective in tumor regression. In the second group of four patients, 12 weeks after treatment, an average tumor regression by volume of 80 percent was reached. BrachySil is a micron-sized particle in which the isotope 32-phosphorus is immobilized.

• Qiagen NV, of Venlo, the Netherlands, filed an application with Nasdaq to change its trading symbol, effective Feb. 15, from "QGENF" to "QGEN," since Nasdaq decided foreign companies no longer need to be designated as such. In other news, Qiagen announced that its wholly owned subsidiary, GenoVision Inc., licensed technology for haplotype-specific extraction (HSE) of DNA from Generation Biotech LLC, of Lawrenceville, N.J. GenoVision received exclusive rights for the worldwide commercialization of HSE in all applications.

• Renovis Inc., of South San Francisco, initiated a Phase Ia trial for REN-850, an oral small molecule that is being targeted to treat multiple sclerosis. The company said results of the 45-patient study will support a Phase Ib trial that will start enrolling patients during the fourth quarter. REN-850 acts by inhibiting leukocyte trafficking, and preclinical studies have shown that the drug modulates the cell migration driven by multiple chemokine receptors.

• Santarus Inc., of San Diego, said it will receive a $10 million milestone payment from Lake Forest, Ill.-based TAP Pharmaceutical Products Inc., along with interest and legal expenses after a dispute-resolution process ended in Santarus' favor. Santarus initiated the process in August 2003, stating that TAP achieved a development milestone under the terms of a sublicense agreement signed in June 2002, which called for TAP to development immediate-release proton pump inhibitor products for the North American market using Santarus' technology in connection with lansoprazole.

• Seattle Genetics Inc., of Bothell, Wash., said that CuraGen Corp., of New Haven, Conn., exercised its option to designate a second antigen target under the parties' existing antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) collaboration, triggering a $1 million payment to Seattle Genetics. Seattle Genetics entered the collaboration with CuraGen in June, at which time CuraGen paid an up-front fee of $2 million for access to the ADC technology for one antigen target. CuraGen has rights to use the ADC technology with antibodies on up to two targets selected by CuraGen.

• Siga Technologies Inc., of New York, and TransTech Pharma Inc., of Greensboro, N.C., received a $2.7 million challenge grant from the National Institutes of Health to support the development of protease inhibitors to treat orthopoxvirus infections, such as smallpox and monkeypox. The award will fund joint research efforts for the discovery, optimization and advancement of lead drugs for smallpox and biowarfare defense.

• Sigma-Aldrich Corp., of St. Louis, began commercializing the TargeTron Gene Knockout System, which was developed at the University of Texas at Austin and exclusively licensed from St. Louis-based Ingex LLC. The system provides a method for site-specific disruption of DNA sequences within a host-cell genome. It has been used to create permanent knockouts across a range of bacterial strains.

• V.I. Technologies Inc., of Watertown, Mass., said it and Panacos Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Gaithersburg, Md., scheduled a shareholder meeting for March 10 to vote on their proposed merger and related matters. The companies also amended the merger agreement to extend the closing date to March 11. The companies announced in June that they planned to merge in a $27 million stock exchange plus milestones. (See BioWorld Today, June 4, 2005.)

• ViroPharma Inc., of Exton, Pa., started dosing in the Phase I trial for HCV-796, a polymerase inhibitor being developed as a potential new product to treat hepatitis C. The trial is being conducted with the company's partner, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, a division of Madison, N.J.-based Wyeth. ViroPharma said preclinical studies showed HCV-796 might be more potent than other anti-HCV compounds developed to date between the two companies. The companies anticipate initiating a Phase Ib trial later in the year.

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