• Agilent Technologies Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif., entered an agreement to acquire Silicon Genetics Inc., of Redwood City, Calif. Agilent said the addition of Silicon Genetics' genomics data analysis and management tools would bolster its life science informatics portfolio. Financial terms of the acquisition, which remains subject to closing conditions, were not disclosed.

• Akorn Inc., of Buffalo Grove, Ill., completed a $14.1 million financing. The financing consists of $14.1 million in Series B, 6 percent participating convertible preferred stock and warrants. The capital was used to retire Akorn's outstanding senior bank debt, and is expected to help fund validation efforts for its lyophilization facility, as well as the development of an internal abbreviated new drug application lyophilized product pipeline, and for general corporate purposes. The company announced the financing last week.

• AVI BioPharma Inc., of Portland, Ore., signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. The two-year CRADA provides for further testing of AVI's Neugene antisense therapeutics, which have been shown to be effective in killing all four serotypes of Dengue virus in preliminary studies.

• Benitec Ltd., of St. Lucia, Australia, settled its pending patent-infringement case against Genscript Corp., of Piscataway, N.J. As part of the settlement, Genscript gained a worldwide, nonexclusive license to make and sell DNA-directed, RNAi-based products. The settlement resolves all claims asserted in the dispute between the companies.

• BioCryst Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Birmingham, Ala., said forodesine hydrochloride, a cancer compound formerly known as BCX-1777, was granted orphan drug designation for two additional cancer indications by the FDA. Forodesine is a purine nucleoside phosphorylase inhibitor that functions by blocking the T cell's ability to synthesize DNA. It has orphan status for T-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, including cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. The added indications are for chronic lymphocytic and related leukemias, including prolymphocytic, adult T-cell and hairy-cell leukemia, as well as for acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

• BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc., of Novato, Calif., filed an investigational new drug application with the FDA for Phenoptin, its oral formulation of 6R-BH4, for the treatment of phenylketonuria. The company expects to initiate a clinical study of Phenoptin by the end of the year.

• ChondroGene Ltd., of Toronto, said it would raise $5 million through a private placement that attracted more investor interest than initially expected. The company, which is applying genomics to develop diagnostics and personalized therapeutics, is offering about 5.3 million common shares at 95 cents apiece. The deal is expected to close on or about Aug. 27, after which ChondroGene plans to raise a further $500,000 in Canada through the issuance of 526,316 shares under the same terms.

• CuraGen Corp., of New Haven, Conn., signed a clinical trial agreement with the Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., for PXD101, a histone deacetylase inhibitor in Phase I trials. The institute will sponsor several trials evaluating the activity of PXD101, either alone or in combination with other cancer therapies, for the treatment of solid and hematologic cancers. CuraGen licensed PXD101 from TopoTarget A/S, of Copenhagen, Denmark, and the companies are jointly developing PXD101.

• CV Therapeutics Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif., said a preclinical study published in the Aug. 24, 2004, issue of Circulation showed that potential anti-arrhythmic effects observed with ranolazine might be due to the ability of ranolazine to inhibit the late sodium current. The effect of ranolazine on the late sodium current could be relevant to the drug's potential to treat a variety of cardiovascular conditions, including chronic angina and acute coronary syndromes, CV Therapeutics said. Outside investigators, in conjunction with scientists at CV Therapeutics, have conducted a series of studies to evaluate the effects of ranolazine on cardiac ion channels, including the late sodium channel.

• DarPharma Inc., of Chapel Hill, N.C., began enrollment in a trial of DAR-0100 for the treatment of working memory and cognitive deficits associated with schizophrenia. The company called the study the first clinical trial of a dopamine D1 receptor full agonist in treating working memory deficits, adding that it is sponsored by the Stanley Medical Research Institute in Bethesda, Md. The trial will enroll schizophrenia patients who are stabilized on existing medications and will evaluate the effect of DAR-0100 on brain activation using functional magnetic resonance imaging. Results are expected in the first quarter of next year.

• Endovasc Inc., of Montgomery, Texas, said results from its Phase II trial of Liprostin showed that patients at a particular site, the Georgian Angiology and Vascular Center, showed a significant improvement in oxygen pressure. The trial, in addition to measuring the primary endpoints of maximum walking distance and pain-free walking distance, monitored transcutaneous oxygen pressure (TcPO2) in the extremities of patients. The TcPO2 test measures the level of oxygen flow to extremities as associated in the skin tissue and is often used in clinical trials as an endpoint to assess wound healing.

• Human Genome Sciences Inc., of Rockville, Md., began dosing patients in a Phase I trial of HGS-TR2J, a novel agonistic human monoclonal antibody to TRAIL Receptor-2, in patients with advanced solid malignancies. HGS-TR2J arises from a license agreement entered in 2002 with the pharmaceutical division of Kirin Brewery Co. Ltd., of Tokyo, under which the companies agreed to collaborate on the development and commercialization of antibodies to TRAIL Receptor-2. Kirin will develop and commercialize any resulting drug in Japan and Asia/Australasia, and Human Genome Sciences will develop and commercialize resulting drug in North America, Europe and the rest of the world.

• Imugene Ltd., of Sydney, Australia, said its adenoviral vector technology is being used in an experimental vaccine to protect chickens from the H5N1 strain of avian influenza. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia's national research agency, completed its construction of the vaccine, which is entering efficacy trials at CSIRO. The vaccine delivers a portion of flu genetic material, instead of the whole virus, making it possible to distinguish between vaccinated and infected birds. Initial results are expected within the next two months.

• LION bioscience AG, of Heidelberg, Germany, established two partnerships with cheminformatics companies - BioByte Corp. and ChemNavigator. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• P.P. Luxco Holdings II, a wholly owned subsidiary of Picchio Pharma Inc., of Montreal, acquired an additional 350,000 common shares of Neurochem Inc., also of Montreal. The acquired shares represent about 1.2 percent of Neurochem's outstanding stock, and following the acquisition, P.P. Luxco owns 23.3 percent of Neurochem. If it exercises the 4 million warrants to purchase more shares than it currently holds, P.P. Luxco would hold about 30.2 percent of Neurochem. While P.P. Luxco said it does not intend to further increase its ownership or control over Neurochem's shares, it said it might effect trades in such securities in the future, directly or indirectly, depending on market prices and circumstances.

• ProteomTech Inc., of Emeryville, Calif., was awarded a $750,000 Phase II Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., to develop VEGI, an anti-angiogenesis protein drug. The cancer product is a vascular endothelial growth inhibitor. The privately held company said that its product triggers cell destruction through apoptosis, distinguishing it from Avastin (bevacizumab, Genentech Inc.), which blocks cell proliferation.

• Seattle Genetics Inc., of Bothell, Wash., said that the FDA granted orphan drug designation to its product candidate SGN-40 for multiple myeloma. SGN-40 is a humanized monoclonal antibody that Seattle Genetics is evaluating in a Phase I trial for multiple myeloma. The company plans to initiate another Phase I study of SGN-40 for the treatment of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma later this year.

• St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., said findings published in the current issue of Vaccine detail the safety and tolerability of a vaccine given by nose drops. The product might protect children against human parainfluenza virus type 1 (hPIV-1). None of the nine vaccinated adult volunteers experienced significant reactions, such as respiratory symptoms or laboratory abnormalities. The vaccine consists of Sendai virus (SeV), a mouse virus that is similar enough to hPIV-1 to act as a vaccine, but different enough to have never been associated with a human disease. Preclinical studies by researchers at the hospital proved that the intranasal SeV vaccine can protect against the human croup virus.

• System Biosciences, of Mountain View, Calif., launched its Full Spectrum RNA Amplification Kit, which enables researchers to use real-time PCR to quantify expression levels of more than 125 genes from small samples with limited numbers of cells.

• Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., of Jerusalem, and Active Biotech AB, of Lund, Sweden, said the Federal Trade Commission cleared a drug development agreement between them under Hart-Scott-Rodino Act procedures. The partners are working together on Active Biotech's laquinimod, an immunomodulatory compound with potential to be an oral treatment for multiple sclerosis. The deal was announced in June and could bring Active up to $92 million. (See BioWorld Today, June 16, 2004.)

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