Applera Corp., of Norwalk, Conn., accelerated the vesting of stock options previously awarded to employees, officers and directors in light of new accounting regulations that will take effect in the corporation's next fiscal year. Its board of directors took that action to reduce reported compensation reports in future periods. As a result of the vesting acceleration, options to purchase about 13.6 million shares of Applera Corp. - Applied Biosystems Group common stock, and about 3.6 million shares of Applera - Celera Genomics Group common stock.

Dharmacon Inc., of Lafayette, Colo., said that Genentech Inc., of South San Francisco, selected Dharmacon's advanced RNAi technology for use in its drug discovery and development research. Dharmacon will supply Genentech with a range of siRNA reagents, including Dharmacon's Human Druggable Genome library, which focuses on those genes that are considered potential targets for therapeutics.

Eyetech Pharmaceuticals Inc., of New York, said that as of Thursday, Macugen (pegaptanib sodium injection) became available through three distributors: McKesson Specialty, Priority Healthcare and Besse Medical. Those distributors began providing Macugen to retinal specialists, who are making the product available to patients with neovascular age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Macugen was approved by the FDA on Dec. 17 for use in the treatment of neovascular AMD (See BioWorld Today, Dec. 21, 2004.)

GeneGo Inc., of St. Joseph , Mich., licensed its MetaCore platform to Altana Pharma AG, of Kontanz, Germany, for interpreting genomics data in drug development. The MetaCore platform is a systems biology platform that contains manually curated human data and helps researchers select targets and identify biomarkers for disease states and toxicology. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Gen-Probe Inc., of San Diego, said that bioMerieux SA, of Marcy l'Etoile, France, exercised an option to develop diagnostic products for certain undisclosed disease targets using Gen-Probe's patented ribosomal RNA technologies, pursuant to terms of an agreement first disclosed on Oct. 6. In exchange for those rights, bioMerieux paid Gen-Probe a $4.5 million license fee. BioMerieux also retains options to develop diagnostic products for other disease targets by paying Gen-Probe up to an additional $3 million by the end of 2006.

Helix BioMedix Inc., of Bothell, Wash., signed a memorandum of understanding to give London-based Smith & Nephew first offer to license rights to a number of wound-related indications using Helix's HB50 peptide. In return, Smith & Nephew agreed to provide input on preclinical and clinical development of HB50 as a topical anti-infective for wound care. Helix reported that preclinical testing of the drug in gel form showed a reduction in Staphylococcus aureus in an abraded skin-infection model.

ITL Laboratories LLC, of Scottsdale, Ariz., said it is planning a clinical trial to determine the effectiveness of a stem cell treatment for stress urinary incontinence. ITL said a trial by Austrian researchers showed the potential of using expanding muscle stem cell injections to treat urinary incontinence, and the company plans to use its stem cell expansion technology to expand patients' own muscle stem cells for the trial, which is set to begin this summer.

Karo Bio AB, of Huddinge, Sweden, said clinical trials were initiated for the most advanced compound in the drug discovery and development collaboration between Merck & Co. Inc., of Whitehouse Station, N.J., and Karo Bio. The advancement of the compound, in clinical development, triggered a milestone from Merck to Karo Bio.

Peregrine Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Tustin, Calif., and the New Approaches to Brain Tumor Therapy Consortium said they got approval from the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., for their clinical protocol to treat glioblastoma multiforme using Cotara. Prior Phase I and Phase II brain cancer studies examined safety and efficacy of Cotara administered through single or multiple infusions.

XOMA Ltd., of Berkley, Calif., announced additional details regarding the restructuring of its Raptiva agreement with South San Francisco-based Genentech Inc., including the discharge of the $40 million development loan to be recognized by XOMA this quarter. XOMA also will be entitled to royalties on worldwide sales of Raptiva, beginning this quarter, and will be compensated by Genentech for future Raptiva development work. XOMA previously announced the restructured agreement for the psoriasis product, which eliminated the loan obligation and changed it from a profit-sharing to a royalty-based arrangement. (See BioWorld Today, Jan. 15, 2005.)

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