• ActiveSight, of San Diego, introduced a service aimed at accelerating Hsp90 drug discovery and development by solving 3-dimensional X-ray crystallographic structures of client compounds bound in the Hsp90 active site. The company said it is the first of many proteins it plans to introduce as part of its co-crystallization protein portfolio, which will include several kinases and cytochrome P450s.

• Axonyx Inc., of New York, completed enrollment in the first of its two ongoing Phase III studies evaluating Phenserine in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease. Following six months of treatment in the 375-patient study, the database will be locked for analysis. Safety and efficacy results are expected to be available during the first quarter of 2005. (See BioWorld Today, June 27, 2003.)

• Bioxel Pharma Inc., of Sainte-Foy, Quebec, said it sold its first kilogram-scale lots of cGMP paclitaxel from its new purification plant in Sacramento, Calif. The company said it now can produce several hundred kilograms of taxanes annually, including 120 kilograms of pure cGMP paclitaxel.

• Cytovance Biologics Inc., of Oklahoma City, said it completed a $16.8 million financing for the construction of its core biopharmaceutical manufacturing facility. The company will use the funds, which are in the form of a federal and state tax credit, to develop a 30,000-square-foot plant. Cytovance intends to provide contract manufacturing of therapeutic proteins and antibodies for clinical and early commercial requirements of biopharmaceutical firms.

• Emisphere Technologies Inc., of Tarrytown, N.Y., filed a shelf registration statement with the SEC to sell up to 5 million shares of its common stock from time to time. Proceeds would be used for general corporate purposes, including the company's lead clinical programs. Emisphere focuses on oral delivery of injectable drugs using its eligen technology.

• EPIX Medical Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., began its post-new drug application clinical program with the first injection in a multicenter trial of MS-325 for high-resolution vessel imaging. The study's goal is to optimize high-resolution imaging with MS-325 as the first step in the characterization of vascular wall structures and vulnerable plaque. A new drug application for MS-325's use in magnetic resonance vascular imaging was accepted for filing by the FDA in February, and last month by European authorities. The product was co-developed with Schering AG, of Berlin.

• Epoch Biosciences Inc., of Bothell, Wash., reported the commercial availability of 21 MGB Eclipse Detection Reagents, Analyte Specific Reagents for the molecular diagnostics market. MGB Eclipse Detection Reagents provide an alternative to current chemistries and are available as pre-optimized reagents for detecting genetic targets associated with disease, Epoch said.

• Genaera Corp., of Plymouth Meeting, Pa., said preclinical data published in the July 2004 issue of Pediatric Research describe the potential use of its anti-angiogenic drug, squalamine, to prevent and reduce extraretinal neovascularization associated with ocular diseases. Squalamine substantially improved extraretinal neovascularization in the murine model of oxygen-induced retinopathy after a single dose given subcutaneously, the company said, and a single dose of squalamine as low as 1 mg/kg was effective at reducing subsequent development of extraretinal neovascularization. The study was performed in collaboration with Georgetown University in Washington.

• Immuno-Designed Molecules SA, of Paris, said the European Commission granted its product, Mepact, orphan medicinal product designation for the treatment of osteosarcoma. Designation was granted following the positive opinion given by the European Medicines Agency and its Committee for Orphan Medicinal Products. Mepact obtained orphan drug status in the U.S. in June 2001. Mepact is an immune system stimulant designed to promote the destruction of cancer cells by activating macrophages present in the body.

• ImmunoGen Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., said preclinical data published in Cancer Research demonstrate that huN901-DM1 has significant activity against multiple myeloma cancer cells. The research was conducted at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. The company expects to begin a clinical study with the compound in hematologic malignancies, including multiple myeloma, later this year.

• Inhibitex Inc., of Alpharetta, Ga., said the underwriters of its recent initial public offering of 5 million shares of common stock exercised their overallotment option for another 527,00 shares at $7 each. In total, the company raised $38.7 million. Thomas Weisel Partners and Lazard Freres acted as joint bookrunners and lead managers, while Harris Nesbitt Gerard acted as a co-manager. (See BioWorld Today, June 7, 2004.)

• Lorus Therapeutics Inc., of Toronto, expanded its hormone-refractory prostate cancer (HRPC) trial to two additional sites in Canada. The combination of its investigational antisense drug and docetaxel in the study is being investigated in patients with asymptomatic or symptomatic HRPC where disease progression is uncontrolled. The company noted that initial testing has demonstrated antitumor activity in preclinical studies in prostate cancer and other tumor types.

• Metaphore Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Ft. Lee, N.J., began a Phase II trial of its lead compound, M40403, in conjunction with morphine, for post-operative pain. The multisite study, which is expected to enroll about 300 patients, is designed to evaluate the potential for enhanced analgesic response when M40403 is co-administered with morphine. It will be conducted in subjects with moderate to severe pain following first metatarsal bunionectomy surgery.

• Pharmacyclics Inc., of Sunnyvale, Calif., is enrolling patients in a Phase II trial of Xcytrin (motexafin gadolinium) Injection for the treatment of patients with metastatic renal-cell carcinoma. The trial will evaluate the efficacy and safety of Xcytrin used as a single agent in about 40 patients. Eligible patients may receive Xcytrin as their initial therapy or following relapse from other therapies.

• Sinovac Biotech Ltd., of Beijing, said the second subgroup of 14 volunteers in Phase I trials of its SARS vaccine received their first inoculation two weeks ago and blood tests have shown there are no adverse reactions to date. The first four volunteers also showed no adverse side effects. The vaccination and observation of 18 remaining volunteers will soon begin in different subgroups.

• SkyePharma plc and AstraZeneca plc, both of London, completed Phase III trials of a new version of AstraZeneca's Pulmicort (budesonide), an inhaled corticosteroid for asthma. The metered-dose aerosol inhaler (MDI) uses a hydrofluoroalkane propellant, replacing the chlorofluorocarbon propellant used in the marketed MDI version of Pulmicort. A milestone will be payable to SkyePharma upon delivery of final Phase III data and stability reports to AstraZeneca, expected in autumn. This is part of the total milestone payments of up to $12 million due to SkyePharma under the 2001 agreement. In addition, SkyePharma would receive royalties.

• Tanox Inc., of Houston, enrolled the first patient in a Phase II trial evaluating the safety and efficacy of Xolair (omalizumab) in patients suffering from an allergy to peanuts. The trial is designed as a 38-week trial involving about 150 patients between 6 and 75 years old. Developed under a collaboration agreement with Genentech Inc., of South San Francisco; Novartis Pharma AG, of Basel, Switzerland; and Tanox, Xolair is a recombinant humanized monoclonal antibody to IgE approved for treatment of adults and adolescents with moderate to severe persistent asthma who have a positive skin test or in vitro reactivity to a perennial aeroallergen and whose symptoms are inadequately controlled with inhaled corticosteroids.

• Warren Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Ossining, N.Y., announced the publication of a study showing the effectiveness of its compounds in a variety of neurological injury and disease models. Working in collaboration with Copenhagen, Denmark-based H. Lundbeck A/S; the Mario Negri Pharmacological Institute in Milan, Italy; the University of Messina in Italy; and Dokuz Eylul University in Izmir, Turkey, the company has shown that separation of two distinct biological activities of erythropoietin can be achieved by a variety of modifications to the molecule. The article was published in the July 9, 2004, issue of Science.

• XOMA Ltd., of Berkeley, Calif., said patient enrollment is complete in a Phase II trial of its XMP.629 topical acne treatment compound. Preliminary results from the 240-patient study are expected to be released by the end of next month. The company also said that Chiron Corp., of Emeryville, Calif., named CD40 the first monoclonal antibody target for cancer that it would co-develop with XOMA. The companies plan to file an investigational new drug application to the FDA for the anti-CD40mAb compound by the end of the year as part of a multi-product collaboration they entered earlier in 2004. (See BioWorld Today, March 2, 2004.)

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