• Acadia Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, and Medeon Science Park reported plans to establish a chemistry research and development facility in Malmo, Sweden. The new laboratory, now under construction, is located within the Medicon Valley region, home to more than 60 percent of Scandinavian pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

• Accelrys Inc., of San Diego, reported a subcontract agreement with the Northrup Grumman Corp., of Los Angeles, to assist in the research and development of bioagent detectors for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Accelrys will employ its technology in statistical modeling and analysis to help determine the anticipated sensitivity and selectivity of the detection tools, which will be used to monitor for the presence of bacteria, viruses and toxin proteins.

• Aureus Pharma, of Paris, released new versions of the AurScope databases for G protein-coupled receptor and ADME/drug-drug interactions. In addition, Aureus reported the initial release of a new AurScope Ion Channel database project. The AurScope databases are designed to provide chemical and biological information related to drug targets and pharmaceutical topics.

• Cellomics Inc., of Pittsburgh, and the National Center for Drug Screening in Shanghai, China, entered a joint collaboration aimed at expanding the application of high-content screening in China. Affiliated with the Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, Chinese Academy of Sciences, the center is a national technology base in drug discovery and development.

The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston said its researchers published data in the Sept. 3, 2004, issue of Science detailing their ability to kill leukemia cells in mice through the use of a part of a protein that causes cells to self-destruct when they are damaged or unneeded. To do so, they plucked the BH3 subunit from a key molecule in the self-destruction mechanism of a cell, stiffened its structure and used it as a weapon to destroy leukemia cells, the institute said.

• DeCode Genetics Inc., of Reykjavik, Iceland, was named a defendant in a class-action lawsuit that alleges that during the class period between Oct. 29, 2003, and Aug. 26, 2004, defendants caused DeCode's shares to trade at artificially inflated levels through the issuance of false and misleading statements, including the concealment of continuing internal control problems. On Aug. 26, the company disclosed the resignation of its outside accountant and disclosed a reportable condition with respect to its closing procedures. On this news, its stock collapsed to $5.70, 58 percent below the class period high of $13.80.

• Dynavax Technologies Corp., of Berkeley, Calif., completed enrollment and administered the first round of immunizations in a Phase II/III trial of its hepatitis B vaccine that contains an immunostimulatory sequence (ISS). The trial began enrollment in June at two Singapore study centers, comparing the candidate with London-based GlaxoSmithKline plc's vaccine Engerix-B in 94 subjects. The full immunization schedule consists of three injections over six months, with the third injection scheduled in early 2005. The primary endpoint is comparative protective antibody levels measured after the third injection. If the results are good, the company would begin Phase III studies in the first half of 2005. ISS are short DNA sequences that enhance the immune system's ability in fighting disease and controlling chronic inflammation.

• Genedata AG, of Basel, Switzerland, reported the release of version 3.0 of Screener, an integrated data analysis and management system for high-throughput screening and compound profiling. Combining information from screening data, pharmacological properties and chemical structure, the new version of Screener serves to pinpoint false-negatives, reduce false-positive rates and provide guidance for lead optimization, Genedata said.

• Icagen Inc., of Research Triangle Park, N.C., received a milestone payment from McNeil Consumer & Specialty Pharmaceuticals, a unit of New Brunswick, N.J.-based Johnson & Johnson, for the continued development of ICA-17043 to treat sickle cell disease. The decision to continue development came following Icagen's end-of-Phase II meeting with the FDA. The companies agreed in June to collaborate on the development and commercialization of the product, which is being developed for once-daily oral administration. It had orphan drug designation and fast-track status from the FDA.

• MediGene AG, of Martinsried, Germany, began a Phase I/II trial of NV1020 for liver metastases developing from colorectal cancer. The trial will evaluate safety, tolerability and efficacy of the product in about 30 patients, as well as its synergies with chemotherapy. NV1020 is a herpes simplex virus, genetically modified for the destruction of tumor cells without harming healthy tissue. MediGene expects results by mid 2006.

• NeoPharm Inc., of Lake Forest, Ill., could have its board replaced given the initiative of its founder. John Kapoor, a current director who with his wife holds about 21.7 percent of the company's outstanding common stock, made a preliminary filing with the SEC to remove four of NeoPharm's six directors and replace them with three new members in reducing the size of the board to five. The company develops cancer drugs.

• Pain Therapeutics Inc., of South San Francisco, received regulatory clearance to begin clinical studies of Remoxy in the U.S. and plans to begin a Phase III study in late December. In the UK, the company had been conducting clinical studies of the product, a long-acting version of oral oxycodone, in addition to preclinical studies in the U.S. Remoxy incorporates several features that prevent recreational use, prescription abuse or accidental misuse, Pain Therapeutics said.

• Prometic Life Sciences Inc., of Montreal, said its scientists have confirmed evidence of PBI-1402's positive effect on the formation of red blood cells in bone marrow. The findings confirm a potential use of the compound for anemia caused by chemotherapy and renal diseases. About two-thirds of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy become anemic because treatments often result in a decrease of erythrocytes in the general circulation. The current annual market for erythropoietin, in all indications, is estimated at about $10 billion. PBI-1402 is in Phase I testing in Canada.

• PTC Therapeutics Inc., of South Plainfield, N.J., was awarded a $1 million grant from the Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy to discover novel agents to treat Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). PTC will apply its GEMS (gene-expression modulation by small molecules) technology to identify small-molecule compounds that can be developed as a treatment for DMD, a disease characterized by muscle weakness and progressive loss of muscle function resulting in serious disability and a shortened life expectancy.

• Senesco Technologies Inc., of New Brunswick, N.J., said the shelf life of bananas that used its delayed-senescence technology was enhanced up to 100 percent in comparison to control fruit. The company is partnered with Rahan Meristem Ltd. in Israel to develop delayed-senescence bananas. Senesco also noted that its Factor 5A technology confers resistance to common bacterial and fungal plant diseases by up to 99 percent by preventing the induction of premature death caused by pathogens.

• SIDMAP, of Los Angeles, launched its metabolic profiling services designed to help pharmaceutical companies and biomedical researchers accelerate the drug development and testing process. The technology, which was developed at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, uses smartly labeled metabolic substrate molecules to track disease-characteristic metabolic pathways and acquire understanding of human diseases and drug effects at the nano-scale level.

• Zonagen Inc., of The Woodlands, Texas, said findings reported at the International Congress of Endocrinology in Lisbon, Portugal, provided more information on previously released Phase I/II results from a study of Androxal in the treatment of men with low testosterone, as well as results from animal studies indicating the potential of Progenta for breast cancer. The Androxal data included comparisons to Androgel, an existing treatment for the condition, and suggested that Androxal restores testosterone in a more natural manner as opposed to the favored approach of testosterone replacement as exhibited by drugs such as Androgel. As for Progenta, while enhancing apoptosis of breast cancer cells in a rat model similar to a previously studied drug, it was superior in its ability to reduce the proliferation of tumor cells in the same rat study.

No Comments