• Biophage Pharma Inc., of Montreal, closed a private placement of about 5.3 million units at C10.4 cents per unit, raising C$552,030 (US$422,519). The proceeds will be used to maintain the progress of the company's lead compounds and to form external alliances designed to accelerate market penetration of its first diagnostic product based on nanobiotechnology. The units consist of 5.3 million common shares and warrants to purchase up to about 1.6 million common shares.

• Caliper Life Sciences Inc., of Hopkinton, Mass., and Sigma-Aldrich Corp., of St. Louis, formed a collaboration to develop and co-market a series of automated turnkey solutions for applications in genomics, proteomics and drug discovery. The companies are developing a series of pre-optimized and validated automation protocols using Caliper's Sciclone ALH 3000 Liquid Handling Workstation with a variety of Sigma-Aldrich's biochemicals and reagent kits.

• Chiron Corp., of Emeryville, Calif., won a contract from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to produce an investigational vaccine designed to protect against a potential pandemic-like strain of influenza. The H9N2 strain is one of many subtypes of influenza virus that does not usually infect humans and to which people have no immunity. The contract builds on the collaboration begun in May between the parties to produce an H5N1 avian influenza vaccine for clinical testing. Chiron plans to produce up to 40,000 doses of the investigational H9N2 vaccine, and NIAID will conduct clinical studies.

• Computer Sciences Corp., of El Segundo, Calif., acquired London-based Porton International Inc.'s interest in DynPort Vaccine Co. LLC, which is focused on the development of biodefense biologics. Terms were not disclosed. DVC formerly was a joint venture between Computer Sciences and Porton. Its products include vaccines for botulinum neurotoxin, tularemia, Venzuelan equine encephalitis, anthrax and plague, and a therapeutic blood product, vaccinia immune globulin, to treat complications of smallpox vaccination.

• ImmuneRegen BioSciences, a wholly owned subsidiary of IR BioSciences Holdings Inc., of Scottsdale, Ariz., said interim results from a preclinical study of Homspera for gamma radiation showed that direct muscle injection of the compound elicits a similar positive response previously seen with aerosol administration. The company believes that direct injection of Homspera might allow the military and first responders to treat themselves more quickly in an emergency situation. The 90-day study began at the end of June.

• Insmed Inc., of Richmond, Va., said it contacted the Berlin-Bremen Stock Exchange and requested a halt to trading its common stock. The company, which is developing drugs for metabolic diseases and endocrine disorders, learned its stock has been listed on the exchange without its prior knowledge, consent or authorization. Insmed added that it would conduct a shareholder audit to determine the extent of short selling in its stock, and plans to alert the SEC and National Association of Securities Dealers of such activities.

The La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology in San Diego, said its researchers, along with colleagues from the Institute for Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna, published findings in the Aug. 18, 2004, edition of Immunity showing that the molecule Cbl-b plays a critical role in preventing the development of arthritis and other autoimmune diseases. Specifically, they found that the presence or absence of Cbl-b had a direct impact on whether mice developed arthritis. They concluded that the molecule affected the T cell's immune response, giving the immune system of normal mice the ability to tolerate the arthritis antigens, while mice without Cbl-b could not tolerate such substances and their T cells began attacking their own tissues, leading to the development of the autoimmune disease.

• Medical Discoveries Inc., of Twin Falls, Idaho, received a chronic toxicity study of its MDI-P drug conducted over six months at the University of Washington Medical School. The mouse study, when combined with the company's large mammal toxicology study, indicates the product is safe for use in humans. Medical Discoveries plans to file an investigational new drug application in the next quarter. The company focuses on anti-infective technology.

• Miravant Medical Technologies Inc., of Santa Barbara, Calif., said Phase III findings reported at the American Society of Retinal Specialists meeting in San Diego showed that SnET2 provided a visual acuity benefit in macular degeneration patients with occult lesions. The results stem from subgroup analyses of data. In both mixed (classic and occult) lesions and pure occult lesions, researchers found a positive treatment response in SnET2-treated patients vs. placebo patients. The vision benefit was statistically significant for patients with both predominantly occult and pure occult AMD lesions. The FDA is reviewing Miravant's new drug application for SnET2 under priority review.

The Multiple Myeloma Research Consortium in New Canaan, Conn., was launched as a nonprofit organization that integrates four leading cancer research institutions. The institutions will focus on the identification and validation of molecular targets for multiple myeloma, the discovery of drugs against the targets and expediting early phase trials. The ultimate goal is to find a cure for multiple myeloma. Member institutions include the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute, the Mayo Clinic and the University Health Network (Princess Margaret Hospital). It is funded by a grant from the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.

• Nabi Biopharmaceuticals, of Rockville, Md., fully enrolled patients in the Phase III trial to confirm that StaphVax, being developed to prevent S. aureus infections in patients in the hospital or other treatment centers, can prevent the infection in end-stage renal disease. Nabi plans to submit a biologics license application in 2005. The company also announced the successful manufacture of three consistency lots of StaphVax, which is needed for a marketing authorization application to be submitted in the European Union by the end of the year.

• Nucleonics Inc., of Horsham, Pa., entered an agreement to develop its expressed RNA interference-based (eiRNA) therapeutics with delivery technology belonging to Novosom AG, of Halle, Germany. Specifically, the companies will evaluate Novosom's Smarticles formulation technology for the delivery of Nucleonics' lead eiRNA candidates for hepatitis B and C. In addition, privately held Nucleonics has taken an option to exclusively license and commercialize the technology for its eiRNA therapeutics in those indications. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• Orexo AB, of Uppsala, Sweden, raised about SEK45 million (US$6 million) through a directed new share issue. The financing included a new investor, Catella Capital, as well as a returning investor HealthCap. Orexo, a drug delivery company, said the added capital would allow it to strengthen its product portfolio. Its lead product is Rapinyl, a sublingual tablet intended for the treatment of acute, severe pain.

• RegeneRx Biopharmaceuticals Inc., of Bethesda, Md., said its wound-healing drug candidate, TB4, can be chemically integrated into fibrin and fibrinogen, potentially allowing it to be combined with clotting agents and medical-grade adhesives to accelerate the healing process. The study was published in the Aug. 17, 2004, issue of Biochemistry. TB4 is a naturally occurring peptide present in virtually all human cells that promotes endothelial cell differentiation and keratinocyte cell migration, and down-regulates inflammatory cytokines and chemokines.

• Sequenom Inc., of San Diego, formed an agreement with the Institute of Medical Genetics and the Microarray Facility at the University of Tuebingen in Germany for Sequenom's MassArray Quantitative Gene Expression application. The institute will use the system to validate pre-existing microarray data and to explore gene-expression levels in various neurodegenerative diseases and cancers.

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