• Abbott Laboratories, of Abbott Park, Ill., said Phase II findings reported at the American Academy of Dermatology meeting in New York showed patients with moderate to severe chronic plaque psoriasis achieved significant and continued improvement in disease activity and quality of life over 24 weeks of treatment with Humira (adalimumab). Specifically, 64 percent of patients taking Humira 40 mg every other week achieved at least a 75 percent improvement in disease extent and severity after 24 weeks, and 42 percent on the same regimen had at least a 90 percent improvement in their disease.

• Acacia Research Corp., of Newport Beach, Calif., said its CombiMatrix Group launched the CustomArray Core 67 Cancer Array. The array allows researchers to screen and monitor 67 genes recently identified as markers of multiple types of cancer.

• Biomira Inc., of Edmonton, Alberta, said a Phase II trial is under way to test its immunotherapy technology in patients with progressive ovarian cancer. The study is being conducted under the watch of CancerVac, a subsidiary of Prima BioMed Ltd., of Melbourne, Australia. In March, Biomira agreed to license exclusive worldwide rights to the MUC1 protein in relation to CancerVac's Mannan fusion protein therapeutic vaccine being used in the study. The Biomira MUC1 patent portfolio includes certain rights to patents held by Cancer Research Technology Ltd., of London. Biomira's stock (NASDAQ:BIOM) gained 18 cents Thursday, or 18.4 percent, to close at $1.16.

• Cerus Corp., of Concord, Calif., and Baxter International Inc., of Deerfield, Ill., through their subsidiaries, entered an agreement with BioOne Corp., of Tokyo, to commercialize the Intercept Blood System for platelets in parts of Asia. The system is designed to reduce the risk of transfusion-transmitted diseases by inactivating certain pathogens that might be in donated platelets. The technology is approved for use in Europe. BioOne will market and distribute the system in Japan, China, Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore, after receipt of regulatory approval in those countries. The agreement is subject to approval by BioOne shareholders, following completion of an independent appraisal of the transaction in accordance with Japanese law.

• Chromos Molecular Systems Inc., of Vancouver, British Columbia, said it would raise up to C$7 million (US$5.3 million) in gross proceeds after completing a private placement of up to about 10.8 million units at C65 cents apiece. Each unit consists of a common share and one-half of one common share purchase warrant. Each whole common share purchase warrant entitles the holder to acquire one common share for a period of 24 months from closing, at an exercise price of C80 cents. Chromos, which is developing immune-based cell therapies, listed its placement agents as Raymond James Ltd., Orion Securities Inc. and Haywood Securities Inc.

• Connetics Corp., of Palo Alto, Calif., signed a multiyear consent with F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd., of Basel, Switzerland, to sell Soriatane to an unnamed U.S.-based distributor that exports branded pharmaceutical products to select international markets. Connetics estimates such sales could generate an incremental $11 million to $13 million in Soriatane sales annually through 2007. Product sold to the distributor cannot be resold in the U.S. Connetics will pay a royalty to Roche on sales to the distributor. Including the potential impact of the relationship, Connetics projects Soriatane sales for 2004 to total $47 million to $49 million. The company gained U.S. rights to the oral psoriasis drug from Roche earlier this year. Connetics' stock (NASDAQ:CNCT) gained $4.06 Thursday, or 17.5 percent, to close at $27.28. (See BioWorld Today, Feb. 10, 2004.)

• Dyax Corp., of Cambridge, Mass., granted a nonexclusive license to its antibody phage display libraries to Amgen Inc., of Thousand Oaks, Calif., for the discovery of human antibodies for therapeutic and diagnostic development. Dyax will receive up-front and annual technology license fees, product license exercise fees, potential clinical milestone payments, and royalties on sales of products made using Dyax libraries. The agreement provides Amgen with a license to Dyax's antibody phage display technology and patent rights, as well as sublicenses to relevant third-party antibody phage display patents that might be used with Dyax's technology.

• Evotec OAI AG, of Hamburg, Germany, and ActivBiotics Inc., of Lexington, Mass., entered a drug discovery project. Evotec OAI will apply its rational drug design platform, EVOrationale, to one of ActivBiotics' anti-infective lead optimization programs. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• First Horizon Pharmaceutical Corp., of Alpharetta, Ga., said its board adopted a share repurchase program, authorizing the purchase of up to $20 million of its outstanding shares of common stock over the next 12, months in increments of up to $5 million per quarter. First Horizon may conduct its purchases in the general market and in privately negotiated transactions. First Horizon markets and sells prescription products with a primary focus on cardiology and women's health/pediatrics.

• Forbes Medi-Tech Inc., of Vancouver, British Columbia, added two cholesterol absorption inhibitors to its drug development program. The first compound, FM-VA12, is a single molecular entity that has been shown in animal studies to inhibit cholesterol absorption with efficacy at least equal to that of FM-VP4, Forbes' lead compound in development. The second compound, FM-VP24, is an analogue that inhibits cholesterol absorption, while also exhibiting anti-inflammatory activity, Forbes said.

• Genentech Inc., of South San Francisco, and XOMA Ltd., of Berkeley, Calif., said findings reported at the American Academy of Dermatology meeting in New York detailed preliminary 30-month results from an open-label study evaluating the safety and efficacy of long-term continuous treatment with Raptiva (efalizumab) in adults with moderate to severe chronic plaque psoriasis. Of the 159 subjects who completed 30 months of treatment, a 75 percent or greater improvement on the Psoriasis Area Severity Index was observed in 78 percent of patients with weekly Raptiva therapy. Also, 91 percent achieved a 50 percent or better PASI response, and 45 percent achieved a 90 percent or greater PASI improvement. Also at the meeting, XOMA reported results from two Phase I studies of XMP.629, showing that use of the compound in healthy volunteers and acne patients caused no significant skin irritation, lacked systemic absorption and showed a reduction in lesion counts as early as two weeks after daily dosing.

• Gilead Sciences Inc., of Foster City, Calif., said its board approved a 2-for-1 split of the company's outstanding common stock. Stockholders of record as of the close of business on Aug. 12 will receive a stock dividend of one additional share for every share they own. Based on the total number of shares outstanding as of June 30, the stock split will increase the total number of shares outstanding from about 215.2 million to about 430.4 million.

• Guilford Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Baltimore, said findings published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology and in the American Journal of Cardiology detail two clinical trials that evaluated the safety and efficacy of high-dose Aggrastat Injection (tirofiban hydrochloride) in patients undergoing primary coronary angioplasty for ST segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) and high-risk coronary angioplasty. Results from the first study yielded a significantly reduced primary composite endpoint of death, nonfatal myocardial infarction, urgent TVR and bailout GP IIb/IIIa inhibitor therapy during follow-up with heparin plus tirofiban over heparin plus placebo. Data from the second trial suggest that a high-dose bolus of tirofiban might be as effective as abciximab for 30-day recovery of left ventricular function, the primary endpoint in patients undergoing primary coronary angioplasty for STEMI.

• Human Genome Sciences Inc., of Rockville, Md., completed enrollment in two separate Phase II trials of LymphoStat-B (human monoclonal antibody to B-lymphocyte stimulator, BLyS) in both rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus. A total of 283 patients with active moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis who have failed prior treatment were enrolled in one, while 449 lupus patients were enrolled in the other. LymphoStat-B has fast-track designation from the FDA for lupus and has been selected for participation in the FDA's Continuous Marketing Application Pilot 2 Program.

• Immtech International Inc., of Vernon Hills, Ill., said the underwriter of the previously announced underwritten public offering of 782,608 shares of the company's common stock exercised its option to purchase the overallotment option of 117,391 shares. A total of 899,999 shares will be sold at the closing of the offering, expected to occur today. All shares being sold are offered by the company, and gross proceeds are expected to be about $9.2 million. Jefferies & Co. Inc. is acting as the sole book-running manager and underwriter.

• Indevus Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Lexington, Mass., said data presented today at the annual meeting of the American Urogynecological Society showed that long-term treatment with Sanctura (trospium chloride tablets) extended relief from the symptoms of overactive bladder and was well tolerated. Sanctura is approved for overactive bladder with symptoms of urge urinary incontinence, urgency and urinary frequency. The data were gathered from a 12-month study that included a three-month, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase III trial, followed by a nine-month open-label period.

• ISTA Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Irvine, Calif., launched in the U.S. Istalol, a once-a-day liquid formulation of timolol, for the treatment of glaucoma. The first shipments to wholesalers and warehousing chains will occur within the next week, it said. ISTA also said it completed the training of a 28-person sales force recruited by Ventiv Health Inc. Istalol is a topical solution of timolol, a beta-blocking agent.

• MaxCyte Inc., of Rockville, Md., said its MaxCyte GT cell-loading system is being used in a Phase I/II trial sponsored by the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy at Baylor College of Medicine and The Methodist Hospital in Houston that involves an immunotherapeutic approach to treating chronic lymphocytic leukemia. To develop the personalized cell product, each patient's malignant cells are extracted and irradiated, loaded with the genes for CD40L and interleukin-2 using the ex vivo, continuous-flow MaxCyte GT, then injected back into the patient. The trial protocol has been approved for treating 21 patients.

• MWG Biotech AG, of Ebersberg, Germany, said it signed a global supply contract for oligonucleotides with an unnamed international pharmaceutical firm. MWG added that it expects an annual turnover of about €1 million to result from the synthetic nucleic acid supply agreement. Further details were not disclosed.

• Nanobac Life Sciences Inc., of Tampa, Fla., said findings published in the International Journal of Pathophysiology demonstrated a statistically significant reversal in the coronary artery calcium (CAC) scores of patients with stable coronary artery disease taking Nanobac's comET nanobiotic regimen. CAC is the deposition of calcium plaque in the arteries of the heart. Patients tolerated the therapy well, and their angina and lipid profiles also improved, the company said.

• Provectus Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Knoxville, Tenn., received a $20.75 million financial commitment from Cornell Capital Partners LP, in which it obtained $750,000 in convertible securities and a commitment of $20 million under a standby equity distribution agreement. Provectus may, at its discretion, issue shares to Cornell at any time over the next two years. The maximum aggregate amount of the equity placements pursuant to the agreement is $20 million. Subject to that limitation, Provectus may draw down up to $1 million per month. Provectus licenses and sells products in health care sectors including prescription medications and treatments.

No Comments