• Angiotech Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Vancouver, British Columbia, is making a $25 million equity investment in Orthovita Inc., of Malvern, Pa., as part of a North American sales and distribution agreement for Angiotech's Costasis Surgical Hemostat product and its Cellpaker collection system. The companies plan to rebrand Costasis for use in spine and orthopedic surgery, under the brand name Vitagel. Orthovita will assume all sales, marketing and distribution responsibilities, while Angiotech's wholly owned subsidiary, Cohesion Technologies Inc., will be responsible for manufacturing. The agreement also includes options for Orthovita to distribute Vitagel at a future date outside North America. Simultaneously, Angiotech agreed to pay $13 million to acquire NeuColl Inc., of Los Gatos, Calif. The privately held orthobiologics company is developing collagen-based products for orthopedic and spinal applications. Angiotech, which had a prior equity interest in NeuColl through its acquisition of Cohesion early last year, also addressed its revenue and earnings prospects for the next three years. Revenue goals for this year range between $119 million and $121 million, climb to between $200 million and $215 million for next year and increase to between $255 million and $290 million in 2006.

• AVI BioPharm Inc., of Portland, Ore., said the Senate Committee on Appropriations approved $10 million in funding for two AVI infectious disease projects, as a portion of the minimum $103.5 million in total funding for defense-related projects in Oregon for FY 2005. AVI is designated to receive $6 million for the development of technology to test for and find therapeutic agents for viruses, including Ebola and Marburg, as well as an additional $4 million specifically targeted for anthrax and ricin toxins. AVI's stock (NASDAQ:AVII) rose 42 cents, or 20.5 percent, to close at $2.44.

• BioVeris Corp., of Gaithersburg, Md., said the Department of Defense exercised its option to extend its agreement to purchase products for the detection of specific biological agents based on BioVeris technology for a second year. The contract provides for product sales by the company to the U.S. Army of up to $7 million over the next year.

• Celera Diagnostics, a joint venture between Applied Biosystems Group, of Foster City, Calif., and Celera Genomics Group, of Rockville, Md.; Genomics Collaborative Inc., of Cambridge, Mass.; and researchers from the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Research Institute in Manhasset, N.Y., said findings to be published in the August 2004 issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics would detail their discovery of a genetic variation that doubles the risk for rheumatoid arthritis. The single nucleotide polymorphism is present in about 28 percent of RA patients and 17 percent of the general population. The SNP linked to rheumatoid arthritis is located in a gene that codes for an enzyme called PTPN22 that is known to be involved in controlling the activation of T cells.

• Cepheid Inc., of Sunnyvale, Calif., executed a nonexclusive in vitro diagnostics product patent license agreement with Roche Diagnostics, of Indianapolis, providing Cepheid with rights under a portfolio of Roche PCR-related patents to make and sell products in the field of in vitro human diagnostics worldwide. The agreement becomes effective July 1. The license provides Cepheid with rights to those covering the PCR process, reverse transcription-based methods and nucleic acid-quantitation methods. The license enables Cepheid to use the patent rights across the field of in vitro human diagnostics, with the exception of human identity testing and detection of pathogens for blood-bank screening and plasma fractionation.

• Ciphergen Biosystems Inc., of Fremont, Calif., said promising kidney transplantation findings reported at the American Transplant Congress in Boston were enabled through the use of its Seldi ProteinChip System. Researchers from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine reported finding 13 potential protein biomarkers present in greater concentrations in urine samples from patients who had organ rejection following kidney transplant than were present in most non-rejection samples. Three other potential biomarkers were found to be lower in patients' urine with the onset of transplant rejection. The findings were enabled by the use of proteomic pattern discovery and recognition methodologies developed by Ciphergen's Biomarker Discovery Center joint venture with Johns Hopkins.

• Corgentech Inc., of South San Francisco, said its Phase III trial of edifoligide (E2F Decoy) for coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) failure would continue as planned following a recommendation from a steering committee responsible for the trial's oversight. In a final scheduled review, an independent data safety monitoring board advised the committee that no additional patients needed to be added to the 2,400 enrolled. The board examined angiographic follow-up data from about one-third of the untreated placebo patients enrolled in the PREVENT IV CABG trial. There were no safety issues identified, Corgentech said.

• CuraGen Corp., of New Haven, Conn., is presenting preclinical data on CG53135, its product being investigated for the prevention and treatment of radiation- and chemotherapy-induced oral mucositis, at the 16th annual International Symposium on Supportive Care in Cancer in Miami Beach, Fla. The data demonstrate preclinical single-dose activity for the prevention of OM after the appearance of initial signs and symptoms in predictive animal models.

• Dynavax Technologies Corp., of Berkeley, Calif., completed immunizations in a Phase I pediatric trial of its ragweed allergy immunotherapy product candidate, AIC. Treatment resulted in minor and transitory local reactions at the injection site. No dose adjustments were necessary. The trial is being conducted in 24 children between the ages of 9 and 17 with known ragweed allergy. The AIC program includes an ongoing Phase II/III study in adults, with a blinded interim analysis to be made in late 2004.

• Iconix Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Mountain View, Calif., said it would provide chemogenomic profiling and analysis technologies to ICOS Corp., of Bothell, Wash. ICOS will apply Iconix's chemogenomics platform to develop an understanding of preclinical drug responses. Also, the partners will work to discover and validate biomarkers to predict the onset of specific pathologies, facilitate the development of new drug candidates and monitor drug response in clinical testing. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• Immtech International Inc., of Vernon Hills, Ill., said Phase II data of DB289 to treat Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP), a respiratory fungal infection in immunosuppressed patients, demonstrated that the 50-mg dose regimen was well tolerated and efficacious. The trial, which is ongoing in Peru, involved AIDS patients who failed standard therapy.

• Introgen Therapeutics Inc., of Austin, Texas, said data published in the most recent issue of Cancer Research describe results from preclinical studies of INGN 401 conducted by the company's collaborators at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and the UT Southwestern Medical Center. The active component of INGN 401 is the tumor suppressor FUS1. Lack of FUS1 activity is associated with the early onset of lung cancer, the researchers found. INGN 401 is the subject of a Phase I lung cancer trial.

• Isis Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Carlsbad, Calif., earned a $1 million milestone from Eyetech Pharmaceuticals Inc., of New York, associated with Eyetech's filing of a new drug application for Macugen (pegaptanib sodium injection) for the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration. Macugen is a non-antisense treatment for ophthalmic diseases, including diabetic macular edema. In 2002, Eyetech licensed from Isis specific patents necessary to develop, manufacture and commercialize Macugen.

• La Jolla Pharmaceutical Co., of San Diego, said two articles published in Lupus review the company's drug candidates Riquent (abetimus sodium, formerly LJP 394) for lupus renal disease and LJP 1082 for antibody-mediated thrombosis. The company said the articles summarize a body of previously announced data collected from several clinical studies evaluating Riquent, as well as its tolerance technology.

• MediciNova Inc., of San Diego, said the FDA accepted its investigational new drug application for MN-029, a potential cancer treatment. MN-029 is a vascular targeting agent (VTA) that in preclinical studies has been shown to be more potent with possibly less central nervous system toxicity than first-generation VTAs.

• MedMira Inc., of Halifax, Nova Scotia, received FDA approval of its new Reveal G2 Rapid HIV-1 Antibody Test for use in detecting HIV-1 antibodies in human serum or plasma. The new test is expected to improve the efficiency and cost effectiveness of rapid flow-through testing for the point-of-care market.

• Nabi Biopharmaceuticals Inc., of Boca Raton, Fla., filed its first marketing authorization application in Europe for Nabi-HB intravenous under the trade name Hebig to prevent hepatitis B in HBV-positive liver transplant patients. The FDA has requested additional data for the biologics license application for Nabi-HB intravenous in the same indication. The company expects to file it later this year. The product is approved for prevention of HBV infection following acute exposure.

• Nonlinear Dynamics Ltd., of Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK, a provider of bioinformatics solutions, reported the new release of its flagship product, Progenesis, that now incorporates Cross Stain Analysis Technology. The Progenesis software incorporates technology to conduct objective 2DE research using statistically driven proteomics.

• Norwood Abbey Ltd., of Melbourne, Australia, said its subsidiary, Norwood Immunology Ltd., plans to list on the London Alternative Investment Market on June 30. The listing will follow the completion of a placement of 15 million new shares to UK and U.S. institutional investors and conversion of loans by Norwood Abbey into equity in Norwood Immunology. The company expects to raise about A$15 million (US$10.5 million).

• Nymox Pharmaceutical Corp., of Maywood, N.J., said Phase I/II data from U.S. trials of NX-1207 for benign prostatic hyperplasia showed a highly significant improvement in symptom scores and shrinkage in prostate size in the 30-day studies. The trials evaluated a total of 20 men ages 45 to 65 who were assessed for the drug effect on symptoms, such as frequent urination, urination at night, difficulty with urination and for the drug effect on prostate size measurements. There were no significant adverse side effects in the trials.

• Paradigm Genetics Inc., of Research Triangle Park, N.C., received a second Fast Track Small Business Innovation Research Phase I/II contract from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. The funding supports the application of biochemical profiling to the discovery of biomarkers for alcohol-related diseases The first phase is a six-month study set to begin in September. The Phase I study, funded up to $100,000, will be extended into a Phase II study, which will be funded up to $750,000.

• Peregrine Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Tustin, Calif., and Affitech A/S, of Oslo, Norway, achieved the first research milestone in one of their collaborations. The milestone involved the identification of an initial panel of fully human antibodies that bind to vascular endothelial growth factor with a defined specificity. Affitech will further optimize the panel of antibodies using its discovery and selection systems. The antibodies are intended to be used in Peregrine's vascular targeting agent and anti-angiogenesis programs.

• PharmaMar SA, of Madrid, Spain, said Aplidin was granted orphan drug status by the FDA to treat acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). The compound also has orphan drug status in Europe for ALL. Aplidin is an antitumor agent derived from the marine tunicate Aplidium albicans. Phase II trials of the compound are ongoing for melanoma, colorectal, renal, lung, medullary thyroid, head and neck, and pancreatic carcinomas. It also is in Phase I pediatric trials for solid and hematological tumors.

• Protalix Biotherapeutics Ltd., of Karmiel, Israel, and Icon Genetics AG, of Halle, Germany, signed a two-year strategic collaboration aimed at developing plant cell lines as a general platform system for high-level expression of recombinant proteins. The program combines Icon's amplification technologies with Protalix's expression systems based on plant cell cultures grown in bioreactors.

• Response Biomedical Corp., of Vancouver, British Columbia, initiated the second phase of a research and development project for the rapid quantitative RAMP Biotech Test. The project is funded by an international biotechnology company and is designed to identify biotech traits in harvested grain. Response Biomedical expects to have the first RAMP Test for review beginning this summer.

• Serono SA, of Geneva, received a unanimous positive opinion from the Committee of Medicinal Products for Human Use recommending approval of its psoriasis product Raptiva (efalizumab). The committee evaluates medicinal products for human use within the European Union since last month's accession of 10 new member states. Serono added that it expects European regulatory approval next quarter.

• Spectrum Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Irvine, Calif., said additional data and long-term follow-up from a Phase I trial of EOquin as a single agent in patients with recurrent superficial bladder cancer refractory to at least one prior treatment regimen were reported at the British Association of Urological Surgeons conference in Harrogate, UK. The company said the data continued to demonstrate that EOquin was safe, with no systemic toxicity, and well tolerated at the dose level chosen for ongoing Phase II trials. Also, EOquin continued to demonstrate an initial indication of antitumor activity against superficial bladder cancer - eight of 10 patients showed a complete response after receiving six treatments over six weeks.

• The Medicines Co., of Parsippany, N.J., said the European Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use adopted a positive opinion recommending marketing authorization for the direct thrombin inhibitor Angiox (bivalirudin) in patients undergoing percutaneous coronary interventions. If granted, the marketing authorization would be valid in all 25 member states of the European Union. Nycomed Group, of Roskilde, Denmark, and Grupo Ferrer, of Barcelona, Spain, would market the product in Europe. Angiox is marketed as Angiomax in the U.S.

• Thuris Corp., of Irvine, Calif., was awarded a Small Business Technology Transfer grant from the National Institutes of Health to further its development of therapeutics for select orphan indications. The company's efforts include extensive compound testing in its RapidAging models of central nervous system diseases. RapidAging tests anti-neurodegenerative drugs directly against primary pathologies in living brain tissue.

• Tranzyme Pharma Inc., of Research Triangle Park, N.C., agreed to collaborate with Gentris Corp., of Morrisville, N.C., to develop cell lines to serve as genetic controls for diagnostic assays used to evaluate patients' response to drug treatment. Gentris will provide Tranzyme with genetic sequences relating to alleles that are implicated in the metabolism of therapeutic compounds. Tranzyme will employ its functional biology and gene-delivery technology to create recombinant human cell lines expressing the gene sequences. The partners will jointly own the resulting cell lines, and if the research proves successful, they will enter an additional agreement for commercializing the lines as genetic controls for FDA-approved diagnostic assays. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• Vasogen Inc., of Toronto, said preclinical findings demonstrate the ability of VP015 to reduce markers of inflammation in the brain. The data were published in the June 2004 issue of the Journal of Neuroimmunology and are based on research conducted at the Department of Physiology of Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. The data demonstrate that VP015 abrogates the inhibitory effect of lipopolysaccharide on long-term potentiation in the hippocampus.

• ViroLogic Inc., of South San Francisco, received a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Institutes of Health to assess HIV replication capacity (RC), as a predictor of the pace of progression to clinical AIDS. The grant will allow ViroLogic to evaluate RC in multiple large cohorts that include a variety of patient subtypes and span the breadth of treatment experience from untreated to heavily treated HIV-infected individuals. The grant is a continuation of a two-year Phase I grant originally awarded in July 2001.

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