• Advance Nanotech Inc., of New York, completed a $20 million financing of its common stock. The company said it intends to use the proceeds for further development of its 18 nanotechnology subsidiaries, licensing of additional opportunities and working capital. Advance Nanotech, which commercializes nanotechnology in the areas of electronics, biopharma and materials, also announced the formulation of a corporate advisory board.

• Aptamera Inc., of Louisville, Ky., said its shareholders approved the company's acquisition by London-based Antisoma plc, and it expects completion of the transaction and admission to the London Stock Exchange today. Antisoma said it is evaluating options for further development of Aptamera's lead cancer product, AGR0100, which will be renamed AS1411. Antisoma is acquiring Aptamera in a $21.5 million all-share merger. (See BioWorld Today, Jan. 11, 2005.)

• Boston Life Sciences Inc., of Boston, named Mark Pykett president and CEO. Boston Life Sciences is engaged in the research and clinical development of diagnostic and therapeutic products for central nervous system disorders. Altropane, the company's lead program, is in Phase III trials for the diagnosis of Parkinson's disease and in Phase II for the diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

• Coley Pharmaceuticals Group Inc., of Wellesley, Mass., reported positive data from a randomized, multicenter Phase II trial of ProMune in the initial treatment of non-small-cell lung cancer. Patients receiving ProMune plus standard chemotherapy achieved objective (RECIST criteria) tumor responses more often than patients given chemotherapy alone. The data were presented at a keystone symposium in Vancouver, British Columbia. Final data from the Phase II study will be presented later this year.

• ExonHit Therapeutics SA, of Paris, and Agilent Technologies Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif., reported the launch of ExonHit's SpliceArray Service, which uses a new generation of microarrays developed with Agilent to detect alternative splicing in potential drug targets.

• Gen-Probe Inc., of San Diego, and Chiron Corp., of Emeryville, Calif., said a biologics license application for the Procleix West Nile virus assay for blood screening has been submitted. Since July 2003, U.S. blood centers have used the Procleix assay to screen more than 19 million units of donated blood under an investigational new drug application. The companies intend to seek approval to run the assay on both the semi-automated Procleix system and the fully automated, high-throughput Procleix Tigris system.

• Gilead Sciences Inc., of Foster City, Calif., disclosed preliminary 48-week data from its Study 934, designed to compare a regimen of Viread (tenofovir disoproxil fumarate), Emtriva (emtricitabine) and New York-based Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.'s Sustiva (efavirenz) to Combivir (lamivudine 150 mg/zidovudine 300 mg) and Sustiva in treatment-na ve HIV patients. Results from analysis of 487 patients show a statistically significant difference favoring Viread/Emtriva in the percentage of patients who achieved and maintained HIV RNA less than 400 copies/mL at 48 weeks, based on the FDA time to loss of virologic response algorithm.

• Immunicon Corp., of Huntingdon Valley, Pa., signed an amendment to its development, license and supply agreement dated Aug. 17, 2000, with Veridex LLC, a company of Johnson & Johnson, of New Brunswick, N.J. The amendment modifies two previous milestones. Immunicon believes that the modifications to those milestones are beneficial to both parties and were arrived at through mutual assessment of scientific and market data available at the time.

• Kiadis BV, of Groningen, the Netherlands, completed its €4 million (US$5.2 million) Series B financing round. The company said proceeds will help accelerate its screening programs for drug discovery and support its focus on kinases as one of the main target classes for discovery and optimization programs. Kiadis' technology platform, BioSelect, features pharmaceutical targets for partnerships and in-house discovery programs.

• Ligand Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, said Pfizer Inc., of New York, confirmed a December FDA filing of a supplemental new drug application for the use of lasofoxifene to treat vaginal atrophy. That follows an August NDA filing by Pfizer for use of lasofoxifene in the prevention of osteoporosis. Lasofoxifene is a selective estrogen receptor modulator and the first of Ligand's royalty-bearing products to get to the NDA submission stage. Ligand is entitled to receive an additional milestone upon the first FDA approval of lasofoxifene and, if marketed, royalty payments equal to 6 percent of net sales worldwide and for any indication. (See BioWorld Today, Dec. 10, 2004.)

• Manhattan Pharmaceuticals Inc., of New York, began dosing patients in its first Phase I trials in Basel, Switzerland, to evaluate its orally administered Oleoyl estrone (OE) in obese adults. The company said the 36-patient trial will determine the pharmacokinetic profile of OE. The Swiss medical regulatory authority, SwissMedic, issued a formal approval to initiate the trial last month.

• MedImmune Inc., of Gaithersburg, Md., said it may receive certain milestone payments and royalties under an amended agreement with London-based GlaxoSmithKline plc on future development and sales of an investigational human papillomavirus vaccine now in Phase III development by Whitehouse Station, N.J.-based Merck & Co. Inc. MedImmune also may receive certain milestone and royalty payments from an investigational HPV vaccine it is co-developing with GSK, also in Phase III development.

• Optimata Ltd., of Ramat Gan, Israel, and the Soroka University Medical Center reported the launch of a validation study for the treatment of breast cancer using Optimata's Virtual Cancer Patient technology. The technology creates an in silico clone for each patient and predicts how the patient would respond to leading cancer drugs.

• Osteotech Inc., of Eatontown, N.J., entered a license agreement with Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, for a polymer class developed at Rutgers, for use as part of the Plexus technology under development at Osteotech. Osteotech will pay Rutgers an initial license fee of $50,000 within 30 days and will pay an additional $250,000 upon the completion of the first two milestones but no later than 270 days from Feb. 1. Three other milestones could total $350,000. Further, commencing no later than 270 days after the effective date and continuing until commercialization of the first product in a major market, Osteotech is required to make quarterly minimum license maintenance fee payments to Rutgers. If products are commercialized, Osteotech would pay Rutgers the greater of royalties or the minimum license maintenance fees.

• Procyon Biopharma Inc., of Montreal, completed a larger viral cross-resistance study in collaboration with ViroLogic Inc., of South San Francisco, to compare the resistance profile of its lead HIV protease inhibitor, PL-100, with commercially available protease inhibitors. The results showed that PL-100 and its backup analogue, PL-337, had the most favorable cross-resistance profile, as measured by the median fold change in IC50, as well as percentage of the strains requiring a fold change of the drug greater than either 2.5 or 10.

• Protein Design Labs Inc., of Fremont, Calif., said that the European Patent Office, Opposition Division, revoked the claims in its second European antibody humanization patent EP 0682040. The OD announced its decision at an oral hearing in Munich, Germany. PDL plans to appeal the decision to the Technical Board of Appeal at the European Patent Office. The appeal will suspend the legal effect of the decision of the OD during the appeal process, which likely is to take several years, PDL said.

• Rexahn Corp., of Rockville, Md., said the FDA granted orphan drug status for RX-0201, the company's lead oncology product, to treat ovarian cancer, renal-cell carcinoma, glioblastoma, stomach cancer and pancreatic cancer. RX-0201 is a signal inhibitor designed to directly suppress the production of Akt, a protein kinase that plays a role in cancer progression, by blocking the growth of tumor cells and promoting apoptosis.

• Rosetta Biosoftware, of Seattle, integrated Affymetrix Inc.'s GeneChip Operating Software with version 5.0 of the Rosetta Resolver gene-expression data analysis system. The integration is expected to ease collaboration efforts between scientists, improve productivity in high-throughput gene-expression laboratories, and allow advanced data interpretation and data mining of results from Affymetrix GeneChip brand microarrays.

• Speedel Group, of Basel, Switzerland, completed the first human microdosing studies of its new renin inhibitors, SPP630 and SPP635, for hypertension and protecting end organs such as the heart and kidneys. The compounds are the first to be invented by Speedel Experimenta, the company's late-stage research unit, which was established in 2002.

• Vasogen Inc., of Mississauga, Ontario, initiated a Phase I trial of VP025, its lead inflammatory drug designed to target chronic inflammation within the central nervous system associated with neurological diseases. The 24-patient study is expected to be completed during the second quarter. In other news, Vasogen completed its previously announced registered direct offering, selling about 9 million shares at $4.70 each to raise $42.3 million. The company said net proceeds will fund ongoing development of its Celacade technology, continuing development of its product pipeline and general corporate purposes. (See BioWorld Today, Jan. 31, 2005.)

• ViroLogic Inc., of South San Francisco, signed a three-year, $7.5 million service agreement for London-based GlaxoSmithKline plc to use ViroLogic's HIV-resistance testing technology to support drug discovery and development programs. GSK is expected to use ViroLogic's assays across its virology portfolio.

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