• Acacia Research Corp., of Newport Beach, Calif., said its CombiMatrix Group would receive an additional $2.3 million from the Department of Defense spending bill expected to be passed by Congress this week. Work on the project, in which CombiMatrix is developing a sensor system for genetic analysis and drug discovery to detect threatening biological and chemical agents, began early this year through a contract worth $5.9 million.

• Adventrx Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, relocated to a new facility in the Sorrento Mesa area of San Diego. The larger space accommodates new staff and allows the company to increase the scope of its development programs. The company is upgrading the three laboratories in the facility.

• Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cheshire, Conn., said the underwriters of its follow-on public offering exercised their overallotment option to purchase another 500,000 shares. With a total of 5.5 million shares sold at $15.50 each, the company raised $85.25 million. Alexion expects to receive $80 million net of fees and expenses from the offering, and plans to use proceeds for general corporate purposes. The underwriters were Morgan Stanley & Co. Inc. and SG Cowen & Co. LLC, both of New York. (See BioWorld Today, July 21, 2004.)

• Amarillo Biosciences Inc., of Amarillo, Texas, said its collaborator BioVet Inc., of Tokyo, confirmed that the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan granted regulatory approval for an oral interferon treatment of rotavirus in cattle. Rotavirus diarrhea is a major cause of disease and death in animals and humans. The approval is for low-dose oral administration of human interferon-alpha supplied by Hayashibara Biochemical Laboratories. It will be launched in Japan in September. Amarillo, which owns the distribution rights to HBL interferon for animal health outside Japan, will receive a royalty on sales in Japan.

• AspenBio Inc., of Castle Rock, Colo., raised about $1.2 million through a private placement of unregistered units consisting of 20,000 common shares and 20,000 warrants, for $17,500 per unit. The warrants are exercisable for three years at $1.50 per share. The company, which is developing recombinant forms of equine and bovine luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone, said it would use the funds for working capital, development and general corporate purposes. At the same time its president and principal shareholder, Roger Hurst, returned about 1.9 million common shares for no consideration.

• Bioniche Life Sciences Inc., of Belleville, Ontario, presented research on its oligomodulators and mycobacterial cell wall-DNA complex (MCC) at immunology conferences this week. Results demonstrated that two oligomodulators could serve as immunomodulatory adjuvants by increasing the titer of antibody against hepatitis B surface antigen and that oligomodulators with a phosphodiester backbone are more active than those with a phosphorothioate backbone. Data also showed that cytokine synthesis is stimulated following intravesical administration. Bioniche has completed a Phase II trial of MCC in superficial bladder cancer.

• Celgene Corp., of Warren, N.J., said second-quarter sales of Thalomid increased 35.9 percent to $74.6 million, compared to the second quarter last year. The company posted net income of $12.4 million, or 14 cents per share, compared to net income of $2.9 million, or 3 cents per share, last year. Total revenue increased 30.4 percent to $87.8 million.

• Cell Genesys Inc., of South San Francisco, said it demanded delisting of its common stock from the Berlin-Bremen Stock Exchange. The company said it is concerned that the listing, which traded without its approval or consent, might be used as a mechanism for manipulating the market price of U.S. stocks through short selling and other techniques.

• Deltanoid Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Madison, Wis., entered an option and license agreement allowing Abbott Laboratories, of Abbott Park, Ill., to develop vitamin D receptor activators (VDRAs) for renal disease. In exchange, Abbott will make an undisclosed up-front payment to Deltanoid. The agreement also includes milestone payments contingent on specified objectives, as well as royalties on sales of marketed compounds.

• Dharmacon Inc., of Lafayette, Colo., and Genospectra Inc., of Fremont, Calif., jointly launched a genome-wide line of assays designed to measure RNA changes directly from cell lysates, fresh tissue and archived tissue samples. The QuantiGene human-genome RNA-profiling products measure gene-silencing experiments using siRNA.

• DiaDexus Inc., of South San Francisco, said ARUP Laboratories, of Salt Lake City, will make the PLAC test available for the quantitative measurement of lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2 in blood. The test, developed by DiaDexus, is cleared by the FDA to aid in the prediction of an individual's risk for a coronary heart disease event, in conjunction with clinical evaluation and patient risk assessment.

• DNAPrint genomics, of Sarasota, Fla., upgraded its DNAWitness 2.5 product for physical profiling from DNA with a database that enables forensics investigators to reconstruct a physical profile from DNA left at a crime scene. The company also said its AncestrybyDNA 2.5 product will be featured in next month's issue of Nature Reviews. The story will discuss the company's BioGeographical Ancestry admixture test.

• Elan Corp. plc, of Dublin, Ireland, and Wyeth, of Madison, N.J., presented Phase IIa results of AN-1792 for Alzheimer's disease at the 9th International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders in Philadelphia. AN-1792 is a synthetic form of the beta amyloid peptide. Dosing was halted in 2002 when encephalitis was found in a subset of patients, but the trial remained blinded and patients were followed through December of that year. Examining the beta-amyloid immunotherapy approach, researchers found less worsening on a neuropsychological test battery, as well as a reduction of beta-amyloid plaque in three patients.

• Hemispherx Biopharma Inc., of Philadelphia, said it has accelerated its clinical activities as a result of the spread of West Nile virus into 12 U.S. states. In June, Hemispherx announced plans for a clinical trial to treat WNV with Alferon N injection through a controlled, randomized, multicenter study. Alferon N is a natural-source, glycosylated, multispecies alpha-interferon product composed of eight forms of highly purified alpha-interferon.

• Hybridon Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., said preclinical data reported at the combined International Congress of Immunology and Conference of the Federation of Clinical Immunology Society in Montreal showed that its second-generation immunomodulatory oligonucleotide (IMO) compounds demonstrated potent adjuvant activity, inducing Th1-type mucosal immune responses in mice following oral administration. Hybridon's IMO compounds induced selected Th1 cytokines and chemokines in stomach/intestinal tissues and serum in mice. Intra-gastric immunization of mice with ovalbumin plus IMO produced significantly increased ovalbumin-specific IgG2a antibodies.

• Inyx Inc., of New York, signed a letter of intent with Phares Technology BV, of Muttenz, Switzerland, to acquire a patented platform technology that would enable the company to develop inhalation therapy drugs, including combination drugs, delivered in aerosol formats. Phares is the parent company of Phares Drug Delivery AG, which developed the technology that uses a lipid-binding matrix to deliver incompatible or unstable drug substances to mucosal membranes. As part of the agreement, Phares will provide related product development and technology support.

• Jerini AG, of Berlin, received fast-track designation from the FDA for Icatibant as a subcutaneous treatment of hereditary angioedema. Patients treated with the drug have reported fast, reliable relief of symptoms, and they experienced no drug-related adverse events, the company said. Pivotal trials will be initiated in the third quarter. Icatibant is a specific peptidomimetic bradykinin B2 receptor antagonist.

• KaloBios Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif., exclusively in-licensed an antibody drug candidate for autoimmune diseases from a team of researchers at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research's Melbourne branch in Australia. The company plans to move the first-generation antibody into clinical trials for rheumatoid arthritis by the second half of 2005.

• Lilly ICOS LLC, a joint venture between Eli Lilly and Co., of Indianapolis, and ICOS Corp., of Bothell, Wash., said second-quarter worldwide sales of Cialis (tadalafil) were $137.2 million, compared to $108.3 million in the first quarter and $37.4 million in the year-ago second quarter. The joint venture reported a net loss of $70.5 million, up from $40.1 million last year, and revenue of $111.4 million, also up from last year's $25 million figure.

• Orion Genomics LLC, of St. Louis, said data published in the July 22, 2004, issue of Nature relate epigenetic information to gene-expression patterns over large parts of the Arabidopsis genome, a plant model system. The company's scientific co-founder, Rob Martienssen, and his colleagues at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York found that changes in DNA methylation and associated modifications resulted in changes in gene expression. Such control of gene expression by methylation is carried out at the level of specific regions of repeated DNA, rather than large chromosomal regions, as previously believed, since even in strongly methylated regions, active genes were found in unmethylated islands of DNA. The modifications correlate with small interfering RNA that might guide epigenetic modifications to the DNA sequence.

• Rigel Pharmaceuticals Inc., of South San Francisco, said it identified R763 as a lead compound in its aurora kinase-inhibition program targeting cancer cell proliferation. It plans to file an investigational new drug application by the third quarter of 2005 on the selective small-molecule inhibitor of aurora kinase. Rigel said it discovered the R763 compound class using a high-content, cell-based phenotype assay that measures cell proliferation, apoptosis, cellular morphology and normal cell cycling.

• Scynexis Inc., of Research Triangle Park, N.C., was awarded a three-year contract worth up to $3 million from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to produce bulk drug substances for an ongoing program to develop medications for illicit drug dependency. The company will provide batches of active pharmaceutical ingredients for clinical assessment on a task-order basis.

• Semafore Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Indianapolis, said preclinical data reported at the Anti-Cancer Drug Discovery & Development Summit in Philadelphia revealed that its targeted pan PI3K inhibitor, SF1126, produced significant tumor reduction in a xenograft mouse model of prostate cancer. The data also demonstrated that Semafore's targeting modifications have the potential to eliminate the toxicity that occurs with a nontargeted version of the same inhibitor.

• Sequenom Inc., of San Diego, formed a three-year collaboration with the National Human Genome Research Institute of the National Institutes of Health to perform allele-specific gene expression of genes conferring susceptibility to Type II diabetes using MassArray Quantitate Gene Expression. The Cooperative Research and Development Agreement builds on prior research by the organizations analyzing DNA for single nucleotide polymorphisms that correlate to the disease and furthers work performed by the genome institute.

• Spectrum Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Irvine, Calif., sent a formal demand letter to the Berlin-Bremen Stock Exchange requesting that the exchange delist its common stock and any other securities from the exchange. Spectrum did not apply for or authorize the listing.

• Stressgen Biotechnologies Corp., of San Diego, said preclinical data reported at the combined International Congress of Immunology and Conference of the Federation of Clinical Immunology Society in Montreal showed that HspE7 induced strong and durable cellular responses to the human papillomavirus E7 protein in normal and immunocompromised mice. At the same time, the company said it is finalizing a protocol with the FDA to begin a pivotal Phase III trial of its lead immunotherapeutic in its first indication, recurrent respiratory papillomatosis, which are warts of the upper airways caused primarily by human papillomavirus Types 6 and 11.

• TheraQuest Biosciences LLC, of Blue Bell, Pa., completed a seed financing round with $500,000 and $250,000 investments, respectively, from BioAdvance and Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania. TheraQuest is developing analgesics for pain management that provide greater safety and effectiveness, with less abuse potential, than currently available treatments, it said. Its most advanced product is TQ-1015, a sustained-release opioid analgesic for chronic severe pain designed to deter abuse.

• Tissera Inc., of Tel Aviv, Israel, said it became aware of a patent application filed by Marc Hammerman at Washington University in St. Louis for the development of diabetes mellitus therapy based on transplanted embryonic pancreatic-precursor cells. After analyzing the patent, Tissera determined it might restrict the company's freedom to implement its pancreatic application. The company has commissioned a legal expert. It does not believe the patent will impact other applications related to the liver, spleen and other organs.

• Valeant Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Costa Mesa, Calif., completed the redemption of its outstanding 6.5 percent convertible subordinated notes due 2008. The aggregate principal amount redeemed was $236.6 million. Valeant expects to record a pre-tax loss on early extinguishment of debt of about $14 million in the third quarter. The company redeemed the notes using a portion of the proceeds from private transactions in November and December.

• Vascular Biogenics Ltd., of Tel Aviv, Israel, signed a business development agreement with Cleveland-based BioEnterprise Corp., which will support the company's U.S. fund raising. Eric Topol, chairman of the department of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, will be chairman of Vascular's clinical advisory board. Vascular plans to begin clinical trials in 2005 for an anti-inflammatory approach to atherosclerosis and a targeted, gene-mediated delivery system to treat solid-tumor cancers. Vascular was founded in 2000 and employs 20 people.

• Viragen Inc., of Plantation, Fla., confirmed that its Swedish manufacturing facility in Ersboda is on schedule to begin production of Multiferon in September. The company expects to report data later this year from studies evaluating the natural human alpha-interferon product to treat malignant melanoma. Viragen is expanding its production capabilities beyond its existing facility in Umea.

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