• Amgen Inc., of Thousand Oaks, Calif., received a positive opinion from the European Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use for an expanded marketing authorization of Aranesp (darbepoetin alfa) in the European Union. The opinion recommends approval for Aranesp to be administered once every three weeks to treat anemia in adult cancer patients with non-myeloid malignancies who are receiving chemotherapy, and to be administered once-per-month to treat anemia in chronic kidney disease patients not on dialysis. In Europe, Aranesp gained approval for kidney disease in 2001, and for solid tumors and chemotherapy-induced anemia in 2002. It was first approved in the U.S. in 2001.

• Angiotech Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Vancouver, British Columbia, completed its all-cash, $12.9 million acquisition of NeuColl Inc., of Los Gatos, Calif. Angiotech, which previously obtained an equity interest in privately held NeuColl through its January 2003 acquisition of Cohesion Technologies Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif., said the orthobiologics company would form a cornerstone for its emerging orthopedic biomaterials franchise. Its initial product platform is a synthetic bone graft substitute comprised of collagen, a composite material of hydroxyapatite, and tricalcium phosphate.

• Aurora Discovery, of San Diego, released a low-volume liquid-handling instrument that enables highly automated miniaturization of research assays for life science laboratories. The Scout MPD workstation offers non-contact liquid handling at nanoliter and picoliter volumes to support compound reformatting, screening, ADMETox, PCR and SNP preparation, and oligonucleotide processing in high-density microplates.

• Bioniche Life Sciences Inc., of Belleville, Ontario, said findings reported at the International Symposium on Equine Embryo Transfer in Rio de Janeiro showed that its mycobacterial cell wall extract was able to treat endometritis in horses. Specifically, the treatment had a 75 percent efficacy rate, resulting in faster recovery from post-partum infections in mares in foal heat and in the elimination of contaminating bacteria in infected barren mares. In both cases, the mares experienced improved fertility and higher pregnancy rates.

• Eiffel Technologies Ltd., of Sydney, Australia, placed about 36.4 million ordinary shares at A82.5 cents each, raising A$3 million (US$2.1 million). About 8.6 million shares will be subject to approval at a shareholder meeting. The balance, about 14 percent of the company's capital, will be issued immediately. Intersuisse Corporate managed the placement, which included new and existing investors. Funds will be used to accelerate the company's commercial development and to pursue corporate opportunities.

• EPIX Medical Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., began a Phase I trial of EP-2104R, an injectable MRI contrast agent that targets blood clots. The product binds selectively to fibrin, a component of thrombus, and is designed to provide a bright MR image to allow the detection of small clots in arteries and veins, many of which the company said might be undetectable with current imaging methods. EPIX is collaborating with Schering AG, of Berlin, in the development of EP-2104R.

• GlycoMimetics Inc., of Gaithersburg, Md., completed an extension to its Series A seed financing, raising an additional $5.1 million to advance its research programs. All current investors, including New Enterprise Associates, Alliance Technology Ventures, Anthem Capital Management, The Novartis Venture Fund, and PTV Sciences LP, participated in the round. A new investor, The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, also participated. In total, GlycoMimetics raised $9.6 million in the Series A financing. Proceeds will be used to continue compound development.

• OrthoLogic Corp., of Tempe, Ariz., completed the acquisition of Chrysalis Biotechnology Inc., of Galveston, Texas, paying $2.5 million in cash and issuing about 3.5 million shares of stock valued at $25 million. The companies announced the acquisition in April. OrthoLogic plans to expense about $23 million as in-process research and development, and the remainder of the purchase price and acquisition costs will be allocated to patents and trademarks. Chrysalis' shareholders could receive an additional $7 million payment if the FDA accepts for filing the new drug application for a Chrysalin-based product. (See BioWorld Today, April 30, 2004.)

• Palatin Technologies Inc., of Cranbury, N.J., received a $2 million milestone payment from Mallinckrodt Imaging, of St. Louis. The payment relates to the FDA's approval of NeutroSpec, an imaging agent indicated for the diagnosis of appendicitis in patients with equivocal signs. Mallinckrodt markets the product, which Palatin continues to study for other indications such as infection deep inside a bone, fever of unknown origin, post-surgical abscess, inflammatory bowel disease and pulmonary imaging. It was approved a month ago. (See BioWorld Today, July 7, 2004.)

• Prana Biotechnology Ltd., of Melbourne, Australia, appointed Jonas Alsenas CEO. Alsenas, who has served as a board member and an investor in the company, will be based in Connecticut. Prana decided to appoint a U.S.-based CEO as part of its plan to internationalize the company's scope, it said. Prana focuses on commercializing research into Alzheimer's disease and other age-related degenerative disorders.

• Questcor Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Union City, Calif., signed a $2.2 million promissory note with Defiante Farmaceutica LdA, a wholly owned subsidiary of Sigma-Tau Finanziaria SpA, of Rome. Sigma-Tau and its affiliates are the largest shareholders of Questcor, beneficially owning 28 percent of the specialty pharmaceutical company's outstanding stock as of June 30. At the same time, Charles Casamento resigned as Questcor's president and CEO, and also left his seat on the board. He will continue to act as a consultant while the board works to identify a successor. In the interim, Timothy Morris and Jerald Beers, the company's chief financial officer and vice president of sales and marketing, respectively, will form an office of the president. Questcor acquires and markets prescription drugs for gastrointestinal and neurological use.

• VaxGen Inc., of Brisbane, Calif., said its common stock was scheduled to be delisted from The Nasdaq National Stock Market effective as of the opening of today's trading. The company added that it would have the opportunity to apply for relisting as soon as it files its outstanding financial statements, which it plans to do before the end of October. Nasdaq said its decision was based on the postponement of the filing of VaxGen's financial statements for the fiscal quarters ended March 30 and June 30, which the company said is due to its implementation of a new revenue recognition policy.

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