• Akorn Inc., of Buffalo Grove, Ill., raised gross proceeds of $14.1 million after entering definitive agreements with institutional and other accredited investors for the private placement of 141,000 shares of its Series B, 6 percent participating convertible preferred stock at a conversion price of $2.70 apiece. Investors also will receive warrants to purchase about 1.6 million shares at an exercise price of $3.50 apiece. Akorn said it would use its net proceeds of $13.3 million to retire its remaining bank debt, validate its lyophilization facility, fund the development of an internal abbreviated new drug application lyophilized product pipeline and for general corporate purposes. Leerink Swann & Co. is placement agent for the transaction, which is expected to close within the next few days.

• Boston Scientific Corp., of Natick, Mass., and its partner, Angiotech Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Vancouver, British Columbia, said the FDA approved extending the shelf life of the Taxus Express2 paclitaxel-eluting coronary stent system in the U.S. to nine months from the current shelf life of six months. The decision was based on data submitted by Boston Scientific to the FDA demonstrating the performance of the system was maintained within specifications at nine months. The extended expiration date applies to all sizes of the Taxus system.

• Cell Genesys Inc., of South San Francisco, said findings published in the August 2004 issue of the Journal of Experimental Medicine detail encouraging immunologic data for GVAX pancreatic cancer vaccine, a non-patient-specific vaccine being developed as an off-the-shelf product. The three long-term survivors demonstrated strong T-cell responses to mesothelin, a tumor-associated molecule found on GVAX pancreatic cancer vaccine cells, and that the specificity of the T-cell response to mesothelin was unique to each responding patient. In contrast, only one of the 11 patients whose disease had progressed and who died from pancreatic cancer mounted a detectable immune response to mesothelin and the level of response was minimal by comparison. The company said the findings show that patient-specific immune responses can be generated following vaccination with a non-patient-specific GVAX cancer vaccine product.

• Chemical Diversity Labs Inc., of San Diego, and Yale University were awarded a joint Phase I National Institutes of Health grant to discover small-molecule inhibitors of a G protein-coupled receptor, the melanocortin-2 receptor. Chemical Diversity will be responsible for chemistry and high-throughput screening using assays developed by Yale scientists.

• Chromos Molecular Systems Inc., of Burnaby, British Columbia, entered an agreement to develop cell lines using its Artificial Chromosome Expression (ACE) system for potential use in the clinical and commercial manufacture of two undisclosed therapeutic proteins belonging to Centocor Inc., of Malvern, Pa. Centocor, which will fund the collaboration, has the option to use the cell lines for scale-up and manufacture of the proteins, following the research phase of the agreement. Specific financial terms were not disclosed.

• Corgenix Medical Corp., of Westminster, Colo., completed the development of the APA Elisa test kit for diagnosing fibromyalgia. The product was developed under a development and manufacturing agreement with Autoimmune Technologies LLC, of New Orleans. Corgenix has exclusive rights to manufacture the kit, which detects anti-polymer antibodies and serves as the first serum-based assay specific for fibromyalgia. Corgenix and Autoimmune are collaborating on distribution of the product and expect to launch the test in September in Europe.

• Cytogen Corp., of Princeton, N.J., said findings published in the current issue of The Journal of Nuclear Medicine show that the use of Prostascint imaging to guide radiotherapy treatment planning improved targeting of suspicious recurrent cancerous tissue in post-prostatectomy patients. Prostascint was able to define a more precise clinical target volume without causing significant increase to non-target tissue damage.

• Illumina Inc., of San Diego, and Galileo Genomics Inc., of Montreal, signed a collaborative agreement worth more than $1.5 million. Galileo purchased two Illumina BeadStation 500GX genotyping systems for use in fine mapping candidate regions in a minimum of five disease gene discovery programs. The resulting information will be used to produce GeneMaps, comprised of multiple interacting genes associated with disease, which will be used for therapeutics, diagnostics and pharmacogenomics services. Illumina also is licensing the diagnostic rights to Galileo's osteoarthritis gene discovery.

• Immunicon Corp., of Huntingdon Valley, Pa., said that the Aug. 19, 2004, issue of The New England Journal of Medicine published the results of a prospective study sponsored by Immunicon showing that the number of circulating tumor cells in 7.5 mL of blood taken from several women with metastatic breast cancer can predict progression-free and overall survival. Veridex, a company of New Brunswick, N.J.-based Johnson & Johnson, has exclusive worldwide rights to commercialize products using Immunicon technology in the cancer field. Veridex will market those products as the CellSearch System.

• MycoLogics Inc., of Denver, said it received a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research grant by the National Institutes of Health to identify a lead drug compound for clinical trials for treatment of leishmaniasis. MycoLogics focuses on antifungal drugs and therapeutic and prophylactic vaccines against fungal and parasitic pathogens.

• Othera Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Kennett Square, Pa., raised $13 million in a Series B financing to fund clinical development of its ophthalmic drug pipeline. The financing was led by NewSpring Ventures and Commerce Health Ventures, and included investments from Johnson & Johnson Development Corp., Liberty Venture Partners, existing investors and management. Brian Murphy of NewSpring, Roger Guidi of Johnson & Johnson and Zev Scherl of Commerce Health joined the company's board. The company intends to file an investigational new drug application this fall for OT-551, an eye-drop formulation to prevent or delay cataract formation.

• Perlegen Sciences Inc., of Mountain View, Calif., was awarded a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health for the first phase of a high-density, genome-wide study to determine the genetics of autism. Perlegen will use DNA samples collected by the Autism Genetic Resource Exchange, which it said is the world's largest publicly available gene bank for autism research.

• Phico Therapeutics Ltd., of Cambridge, UK, raised almost £750,000 (US$1.4 million) through an angel financing round. Founded at the end of 2000 to develop a new approach to antibiotics, its SASPject technology is based on a protein that targets and inactivates bacterial DNA. The company said it would use the funds to develop a treatment for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection. Over the next 12 months, Phico expects to complete development of the product in preparation for a Phase I trial next year. It also is developing an MRSA treatment for intravenous use, and the funding also will allow it to begin development of a therapy against Clostridium difficile. Investments came from Cambridge Capital Group, Providence Investment Co. Ltd. and a government grant.

• Point Biomedical Corp., of San Carlos, Calif., raised $27.1 million in a private equity financing. The company will use the proceeds to file a new drug application with the FDA for its lead product, Cardiosphere (PBC127), and to retire debt related to construction of its commercial manufacturing facility. Cardiosphere is an ultrasound imaging agent for the assessment of myocardial perfusion in patients with coronary artery disease. Investors included Anvers LP, CHL Medical Partners, De Novo Ventures, Frazier Healthcare, Fininvest, Institutional Venture Partners, Invesco Private Capital, S.R. One Ltd., The Sprout Group and William Blair Capital Partners.

• Samaritan Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Las Vegas, said findings published in The Journal of Steroids suggest that 22R-hydroxycholesterol derivatives offer a possible approach to treating Alzheimer's disease. Researchers said the neuroprotective properties of the compounds seem to follow a structure/activity relationship, exhibiting high neuroprotective activity. They added that the data suggest the neuroprotective effects of 22R-hydroxycholesterol lie in its ability to bind and inactivate beta amyloid.

• Viragen Inc., of Plantation, Fla., said it soon expects to receive final results from its German-based Phase II/III trial of Multiferon for malignant melanoma. Should the data prove positive, the company intends to apply for Swedish approval in the new indication. If it is approved, Viragen said it would be in a good position to negotiate strategic partnerships in Europe, an initiative that is under way. Multiferon is a natural human alpha-interferon drug.

• Viventia Biotech Inc., of Toronto, and Acceptys Inc., of New York, entered an option agreement related to a specific collection of Viventia's completely human anticancer antibodies. Acceptys obtains the exclusive right to evaluate the antibody collection, together with the right to license from Viventia and develop those antibody candidates selected by Acceptys, as either human antibody cancer therapeutics or diagnostic tools. Viventia will receive an initial up-front payment, acquisition fees, clinical milestone payments and royalties on any sales of antibodies that Acceptys licenses and develops. Viventia has certain rights to manufacture resulting products in its manufacturing facilities. Also, Viventia obtained approval from Health Canada to begin a Phase I trial of Proxinium to treat bladder cancer. The trial will be an open-label, dose-escalation study and will begin in the third quarter. It will enroll about 24 patients with the most common form of the disease, transitional-cell carcinoma of the bladder.

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