• Alba Therapeutics Corp., of Baltimore, acquired exclusive rights to the intellectual property portfolio surrounding the zonulin pathway for all applications excluding human clinical diagnostics. Zonulin is an endogenous signaling pathway that allows for the transient, reversible, physiologic opening and closing of tight junctions. Alba expects to move two molecules into the clinic within the next 18 months.

• BioAlliance Pharma SA, of Paris, raised €2 million to top off its third round of financing at €12 million. The privately held company said it would use the proceeds to fund drug development. Its lead product, Miconazole-Lauriad, is a once-a-day buccal bio-adhesive tablet being developed as an antifungal therapy for oropharyngeal candidiasis in a range of immune-compromised patients, including cancer and HIV patients receiving chemotherapy or immunosuppressive drugs, insulin-dependent diabetics and the elderly. It is in two Phase III trials in Europe, one in HIV patients and the other in head-and-neck cancer patients following radiotherapy, and BioAlliance plans to file an investigational new drug application later this year to conduct a Phase III study in the U.S. The financing round was led by Auriga Partners. Additional investments came from Siparex Ventures, ING, the French Co-Investment Fund, Capricorn Venture Partners, ABN AMRO Capital France and SPEF Ventures. Siparex's Pascal Demichel joined BioAlliance's board in the process.

• Crucell NV, of Leiden, the Netherlands, and Harvard Medical School said results of a joint study support vaccine vectors developed by Crucell. At the AIDS Vaccine 2004 conference in Lausanne, Switzerland, a researcher reported results concerning the potency of adenovirus serotypes 11 and 35 when combined with antigens of simian immunodeficiency virus, which causes AIDS-like symptoms in monkeys. The results showed both recombinant serotypes were effective in eliciting immune responses in mice, particularly when used together in a prime-boost vaccine regimen in the presence of pre-existing immunity to serotype 5.

• Cryptome Pharmaceuticals Ltd., of Melbourne, Australia, received an about $2 million AusIndustry R&D START grant to support development work on its lead candidate, the anti-coagulant CR001. The grant will fund up to half of the project testing the efficacy and safety of CR001, a naturally occurring peptide, as an alternative to current thrombosis drugs. The project is expected to be completed in early 2006.

• eGene Inc., of Orange, Calif., was formed through a merger between publicly held Centroid Consolidated Mines Co. and privately held BioCal Technology Inc. The companies adjusted outstanding shares, options and warrants on a 1:3 basis. Intellectual property, technology and personnel resources were combined to create a biotechnology company focused on biological/microbial materials and life sciences testing industries. It plans to use its core technologies of capillary electrophoresis, microfluidics, liquid handling and automation to create genotyping DNA-testing tools. eGene's shares are trading on the Over-the-Counter Bulletin Board under the symbol "EGEI."

• GeneWorks, of Ann Arbor, Mich., opened an investigational new animal drug (INAD) file with the FDA's Administration Center for Veterinary Medicine. The file covers the company's use of transgenic chickens for the manufacture of pharmaceutical proteins in the white-protein fraction of their eggs. The center recently requested that biotechnology companies working with transgenic food animal species open INAD files detailing animal use and disposition.

• Harvest Technologies Corp., of Plymouth, Mass., sold the assets of its blood-conservation technologies to Haemonetics Corp., of Braintree, Mass. Harvest focuses on regenerative medicine in which patients' own tissues promote healing in orthopedic, chronic wound, cardiovascular and oral surgeries, as well as other surgical markets. It divested the blood-conservation technologies to focus its resources on developing its products.

• Indian Creek Medical Technologies LLC, of San Diego, exclusively licensed a cancer therapeutic called Apatone that has shown in animal studies that it causes a variety of cancer cells to self-destruct. Apatone exploits a dual small-molecule strategy that induces oxidative stress specifically within cancer cells. That causes the cancer cells to die without damaging adjacent healthy cells, the company said.

• MethylGene Inc., of Montreal, said the underwriters of its initial public offering exercised the overallotment option for an additional 380,000 common shares, resulting in gross proceeds of $1.6 million. A total of 4.7 million shares were issued in the public offering, and another 323,576 shares in a concurrent private placement, giving the company total gross proceeds of about $23 million. The offering was co-led by Orion Securities Inc. and RBC Dominion Securities Inc., and included Desjardins Securities Inc. and Raymond James Ltd.

• Nutra Pharma Corp., of Boynton Beach, Fla., said its majority-owned subsidiary, Infectech Inc., received a matching funds grant through a research proposal at Ohio State University. The grant is for the use of paraffin baiting as a diagnostic for the Johne's disease pathogen Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis. Infectech owns the patents a researcher at the school is using for the grant.

• Peplin Biotech Ltd., of Brisbane, Australia, said clinical trials of its lead product, PEP005 Topical, began under the management of Allergan Inc., of Irvine, Calif. The first patients have been enrolled and treated in the Phase I/II program, which will be conducted in the U.S. and Australia. Under a license from Peplin, Allergan will evaluate PEP005 Topical as a treatment for actinic keratosis and the most common form of non-melanoma skin cancer, basal-cell carcinoma.

• Protemix Corp. Ltd., of Auckland, New Zealand, said findings published in next month's issue of Diabetes show that six months of treatment with Laszarin resulted in a significant reduction toward normal heart size in diabetic patients with cardiac enlargement. The orally active small molecule removes excess copper from the body, and researchers showed that defective metabolism of copper in diabetics is implicated in the development of heart disease. A Phase II trial in Type II diabetics, as well as a study in preclinical models, showed that Laszarin caused increased urinary output of copper compared with treated controls. The researchers found reversed heart failure in preclinical models, and also found that the damaged hearts in the preclinical models and humans had substantively regenerated after treatment with Laszarin.

• Transition Therapeutics Inc., of Toronto, closed a transaction in which it issued 5 million common shares to Novo Nordisk A/S, of Bagsvaerd, Denmark, at $1.20 per share for cash proceeds of $6 million. The private placement is part of a licensing agreement between the parties that was formed earlier this month. The shares issued to Novo are subject to a four-month hold period. Transition will use the proceeds for ongoing research and development and for general corporate purposes. The company focuses on treatments for diabetes, multiple sclerosis and hepatitis C.

• ZymoGenetics Inc., of Seattle, began a Phase Ib trial of TACI-Ig in collaboration with Geneva-based Serono SA for patients with rheumatoid arthritis. The study is designed to evaluate the safety and pharmacokinetics of escalating doses of TACI-Ig, while also monitoring its biological effects, in a total of 60 patients in Europe and Australia. The companies previously started a Phase Ib study in lupus patients and have completed a Phase I study in healthy volunteers. TACI-Ig is a soluble fusion protein that links the extracellular portion of the TACI receptor to the Fc portion of human immunoglobulin.

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