• Amgen Inc., of Thousand Oaks, Calif., said the European Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use recommended approval of Mimpara (cinacalcet HCl) for secondary hyperparathyroidism in chronic kidney disease patients on dialysis and for treating hypercalcemia in patients with parathyroid carcinoma. The company said the oral calcimimetic lowers parathyroid hormone levels by increasing sensitivity of the calcium-sensing receptor to extracellular calcium. In the U.S., the drug is marketed as Sensipar and received FDA approval following priority review in the spring. The product is licensed from NPS Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Salt Lake City. (See BioWorld Today, March 10, 2004.)

• Bionomics Ltd., of Adelaide, Australia, agreed to a collaborative study of its BNO69 gene, which shows promise in treating cancer, with the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in Shreveport. Under the agreement, the school's gene delivery technology will be used to deliver gene expression-silencing molecules to solid tumors. The partners said such delivery might result in the disruption of blood vessel formation and tumor growth arrest. Bionomics will have commercialization rights on resulting cancer treatments.

• Genetronics Biomedical Corp., requested the immediate cessation of trading and delisting of its common stock from the Berlin-Bremen Stock Exchange or any unofficially regulated markets controlled by that exchange. The drug developer said its stock was listed without its prior knowledge, consent or authorization.

• GenPhar Inc., of Mount Pleasant, S.C., signed an agreement with the U.S. Army to up its existing contract to develop and test multivalent vaccines for Marburg and Ebola viruses. The money, which increased from $1.1 million to $6 million, will fund work over the next two years. GenPhar intends to contract with the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston to perform some of the contracted services. The vaccines are based on GenPhar's vaccine platform technology, which it said also is applicable to other viral infectious diseases such as HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and dengue fever.

• Inspire Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Durham, N.C., closed its follow-on offering of 6.9 million common shares at $12 each, including 900,000 shares sold upon the underwriters' full exercise of their overallotment option. Morgan Stanley acted as the offering's sole book-running manager. Deutsche Bank Securities was co-lead manager, with SG Cowen & Co. LLC and Piper Jaffray & Co. as co-managers. The company announced the deal last week. (See BioWorld Today, July 28, 2004.)

• MDS Inc., of Toronto, said MDS Proteomics completed its financial reorganization and its operations have been merged with those of OptiMol, which previously was half owned by MDS Proteomics. Renamed Protana Inc., the reorganized company will focus beyond proteomics-based discovery research and, instead, will work in broader areas that encompass genomics, proteomics, clinical settings, as well as lab services, and will span drug discovery to late-stage work. The company will have about $25 million in cash on hand and committed cash. Given an expected quarterly burn of $2.5 million to $3 million, it is expected to have sufficient resources to achieve cash-flow breakeven.

• The Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif., said Francis Crick died last week from colon cancer. Crick won the Nobel Prize with James Watson for their 1953 discovery of the double-helix structure of DNA. Crick was 88.

• ScheBo Biotech AG, of Giessen, Germany, said findings published in the British Journal of Cancer detail the use of a test that detects cancer cells in the stool through the enzyme Tumor M2-PK. Researchers from the University Clinic of Giessen investigated the marker in their study of a patient group with colorectal cancer and a healthy control group of 204 subjects altogether, all of whom underwent colonoscopy. The sensitivity of the new test was between 60 percent and 90 percent, according to the tumor stage, while, the company said, current tests such as blood in the stool tests have a sensitivity of about 25 percent.

• Scolr Inc., of Bellevue, Wash., changed its name to Scolr Pharma Inc. Its will continue to trade on the American Stock Exchange as "DDD." Separately, the company said findings to be published in the next issue of Drug Development and Industrial Pharmacy will highlight its ability to use its controlled-release technology to formulate a Class I compound, Niacin, with a level A in vitro-in vivo correlation.

• Velcura Therapeutics Inc., of Ann Arbor, Mich., was awarded about $1.5 million by the National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases, a unit of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., to study the mechanisms by which primitive cells develop into mature bone-forming cells. The company said it would use funds from the grant to investigate the control of stem cells found in the bone marrow of children and adults and their relationship to early and mature bone cells.

• Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, a division of Wyeth, of Madison, N.J., said the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use recommended approval for Enbrel (etanercept) for treating adults with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis for whom phototherapy or conventional systemic treatments have been inadequate or are inappropriate. The opinion will be forwarded to the European Commission for endorsement before the drug can receive final approval. Enbrel is marketed by Wyeth and Amgen Inc., of Thousand Oaks, Calif.

• Xenomics Inc., of New York, said it completed its 111-for-1 stock split and name change from Used Kar Parts Inc. Effective July 27, its Over-the-Counter Bulletin Board stock symbol changed from "UKAR" to "XNOM." The applied genomics company is developing non-invasive diagnostic tests for prenatal genetic abnormalities, infectious diseases, early stage cancer, and organ and cell transplantation monitoring using its transrenal nucleic acid technology.

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