• Avanir Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, said information on a diagnostic scale used to identify pseudobulbar affect (PBA) in patients with multiple sclerosis was presented at the 2004 Annual Conference of the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers in Toronto. The Center for Neurologic Study Lability Scale (CNS-LS) is a validated clinical tool used to diagnose patients with PBA. The CNS-LS is being used in an ongoing Phase III trial conducted by Avanir of Neurodex to treat PBA in MS patients.

• Biomax Solutions Inc., of Falmouth, Mass., and Geospiza Inc., of Seattle, formed an alliance to integrate bioinformatics systems and sell them to researchers working with DNA sequencing data. The Optimized Research Environment will provide researchers with a means to turn raw DNA sequencing data into discovery information. Geospiza also formed an agreement with UK-based AME Bioscience, which will bundle the Geospiza Finch Sequencing Center software system for DNA sequencing data-management and analysis with refurbished or pre-owned sequencing instruments.

• Boston Biomedica Inc., of West Bridgewater, Mass., completed the sale of all of the assets and selected liabilities of its instrumentation division, BBI Source Scientific Inc., to Source Scientific LLC, an entity owned 30 percent by Boston Biomedica. BBI will receive a note for $900,000 plus accrued interest payable at the end of three years. Richard Henson and Bruce Sargeant will each own 35 percent of Source Scientific. They are two of the three original founders of BBI in 1980.

• Curis Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., said three new independent studies have been published that link the growth of prostate, pancreatic and colorectal cancer to abnormal expression of the Hedgehog signaling pathway. The pathway is a regulatory mechanism used by the body to control the normal development and growth of tissues and organs. One study was published in Endocrinology, while two others appeared in the International Journal of Cancer.

• CytRx Corp., of Los Angeles, closed its deal to license its co-polymer technologies, including Flocor, Opti-Vax and related anti-infective products, on an exclusive basis to Houston-based SynthRx Inc. CytRx received a 19.9 percent ownership interest in SynthRx and a $228,000 payment in return for the exclusive rights. The company also will receive significant milestone payments and royalties upon commercialization of any products developed under the alliance.

• Delex Therapeutics Inc., of Mississauga, Ontario, completed its Phase IIa trial of AeroLEF (aerosolized liposome-encapsulated fentanyl) in patients experiencing moderate to severe pain following elective knee surgery. The results support the potential of AeroLEF to provide effective analgesia.

• Endovasc Inc., of Montgomery, Texas, said preliminary results from its Phase II Liprostin trial in patients with peripheral vascular disease show a marked improvement in both maximum walking distance and pain-free maximum walking distance, compared to baseline. Following the sixth treatment, patients' average maximum walking distance increased 80 percent over baseline, while pain-free distance increased 190 percent. The initial assessment evaluated the first 28 patients who completed the trial.

• Evogene Ltd., of Rehovot, Israel, and the French agricultural research center CIRAD signed a multiyear deal to develop abiotic stress-tolerant cotton. Evogene is focused on improving of crops and the production of plant-derived products. The collaboration includes technology exchanges, screening by Evogene in high abiotic stress conditions in Israel of a broad collection of wild cotton germplasm from CIRAD and introduction into cotton of gene constructs discovered by Evogene.

• GPC Biotech AG, of Martinsried, Germany, filed a registration statement with the SEC for an offering expected on June 15 of up to 8.58 million shares. The company will offer up to 8.3 million new shares, including an overallotment option of up to 1.1 million shares, and certain selling shareholders will offer up to 300,000 shares. Existing holders of GPC shares will have the right to subscribe for one new share for each three shares held. Goldman, Sachs & Co. and Lehman Brothers Inc. are joint lead managers, while Pacific Growth Equities LLC and WestLB AG are co-lead managers.

• ICOS Corp., of Bothell, Wash., and Raven Biotechnologies Inc., of South San Francisco, entered an agreement that provides ICOS with an exclusive option to license five of Raven's monoclonal antibody candidates for applications such as cancer. Raven will receive an up-front payment and potential milestone and royalty payments. Further terms were not disclosed.

• Incara Pharmaceuticals Corp., of Research Triangle Park, N.C., appointed James Crapo CEO, effective July 1. Since 1996, Crapo has served as chairman of the Department of Medicine and executive vice president of Academic Affairs at the National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver. He is one of the scientific co-founders of Incara's catalytic antioxidant drug development program.

• Indevus Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Lexington, Mass., said aminocandin was well tolerated among healthy volunteers in a Phase I trial. The treatment for systemic fungal infections showed a prolonged duration of antifungal activity following a single dose.

• Innogenetics NV, of Ghent, Belgium, entered into a worldwide licensing agreement with Takeda Chemical Industries Ltd., of Osaka, Japan. Innogenetics gains access to Takeda's patent rights for the diagnostic and research use of beta-amyloid antibodies. The abnormal accumulation of beta-amyloid protein in the brain is one of the pathological hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

• Intradigm Corp., of Rockville, Md., received a Phase I Small Business Technology Transfer grant from the National Cancer Institute to support its technology transfer and collaboration with James Mixson at the University of Maryland. Mixson and the company are developing nucleic acid delivery technology targeting brain tumors and their blood vessels. The studies will address a key barrier to targeted cancer therapeutic treatments, a need to reduce expression of unwanted proteins such as growth factors.

• Isis Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Carlsbad, Calif., entered an agreement with a subsidiary of Elan Corp. plc, of Dublin, Ireland, to acquire Elan's minority interest in their joint ventures Orasense and HepaSense. Isis eliminated all future royalties to Elan related to the oral delivery platform developed within the Orasense collaboration and to ISIS 14803, an antisense drug in Phase II trials to treat hepatitis C virus, which was the focus of the HepaSense collaboration. The agreement allows Elan to transfer its shares of Isis Series B preferred stock to a third party. The shares will convert to 1.06 million shares of Isis common stock, eliminating the 5 percent in-kind dividend. Elan also surrendered its warrant to purchase 14,881 shares of Isis stock. Elan terminated its participation in HepaSense in November 2002 and Orasense in January 2003. Separately, Isis said preclinical studies demonstrated the utility of four second-generation antisense inhibitors in identifying new diabetes and related metabolic disease targets for drug discovery and as potential treatments for those conditions. The data were presented at the 64th Annual Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association in Orlando, Fla.

• Jerini AG, of Berlin, closed a €31 million Series B round of financing. The company expects to use the proceeds to prepare for the expected 2006 launch of its lead product, Icatibant, for angioedema. The financing was led by new investor HealthCap, of Stockholm, Sweden, and current investors Munich, Germany-based TVM Techno Venture Management and London-based 3i. Existing investors that participated were Sandares Morris Harris, of New York; PolyTechnos Funds, of Munich; and the Berlin-based firms IBB-Beteiligungsgesellschaft and bmp, as well as private investors. Bjorn Odlander, of HealthCap, and Klaus Stockemann, of 3i, will join Jerini's supervisory board. Jerini has a pipeline of several preclinical and two Phase II projects with its Peptides-To-Drugs discovery platform. Icatibant will enter pivotal trials in the third quarter. The company now has raised more than €55 million.

• Medarex Inc., of Princeton, N.J., received orphan drug designation for its fully human anti-CTLA-4 antibody, MDX-010, to treat high-risk Stages II, III and IV melanoma. Medarex intends to begin a pivotal study in the second half of this year. The company also said a Phase II trial of MDX-060 showed that 18 percent of patients, or three of 17, with refractory Hodgkin's disease experienced ongoing complete or partial responses with durations of at least three months. One patient experienced a complete response, and two patients showed ongoing partial responses. MDX-060 is thought to target CD30, a molecule found on activated lymphocytes.

• Orphan Medical Inc., of Minneapolis, said data on Xyrem as a treatment for excessive daytime sleepiness associated with narcolepsy showed that changes in the Epworth Sleepiness Score and Clinical Global Impressions of Change were statistically significant. Xyrem is approved in the U.S. to treat cataplexy. The double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial assessed 228 patients over eight weeks. Orphan Medical plans to obtain results of a second Phase III trial in the third quarter and file a supplemental new drug application by the end of the year.

• Pluristem Life Systems Inc., of Haifa, Israel, appointed Menachem Ze'evi CEO. Ze'evi recently worked as CEO of the wound-healing and tissue-regeneration company Polyheal Ltd.

• Quintiles Transnational Corp., of Research Triangle Park, N.C., signed an agreement to sell assets relating to its Malvern, Pa.-based specialty dermatology products company, Bioglan Pharmaceuticals Co., to Fairfield, N.J.-based Bradley Pharmaceuticals Inc. in a transaction valued at about $183 million in cash, plus direct costs for transferred inventory. Quintiles acquired certain assets and formed Bioglan in March 2002. As part of the agreement, Bradley will acquire Bioglan's interests in the dermatology products on the U.S. market, including Solaraze Gel for actinic keratosis, Adoxa for severe acne, Zonalon for pruritus and Tx Systems used as topical treatment during in-office procedures.

• RheoGene Inc., of Norristown, Pa., granted a worldwide license to New England Biolabs, of Beverly, Mass., to develop and distribute research kits and related products based on RheoGene's RheoSwitch inducible gene-regulation technology. NEB gains rights to develop combination products for the research market that incorporate RheoSwitch technology and NEB technologies. Future products will include the RheoPlex multigene regulation system for independent regulation of genes.

• Semafore Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Indianapolis, said the first in vivo data showing that a P13K inhibitor, SF1126, with targeting modifications can be effective and safe in a mouse model of non-small-cell lung cancer. P13K is associated with multiple cellular functions that can stimulate the growth of cancer cells. Semafore showed that inhibiting P13K through use of a prodrug specifically targeted to tumor neovasculature can be effective, with limited toxicity.

• Sepracor Inc., of Marlborough, Mass., presented a new analysis of Phase III data for Estorra brand eszopiclone to treat insomnia at the 18th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies in Philadelphia. Researchers analyzing the six-month, double-blind, placebo-controlled study found that eszopiclone improved sleep maintenance irrespective of the level of pre-treatment wake time after sleep onset. A greater improvement was seen in those with a greater baseline severity. Sepracor received an approvable letter from the FDA in February for Estorra to treat insomnia.

• SIGA Technologies Inc., of New York, signed an agreement to acquire certain antiviral programs targeting potential agents of biological warfare from ViroPharma Inc., of Exton, Pa., for $1 million in cash and 1 million shares of SIGA common stock. SIGA will purchase lead compounds, assays and scientific know-how related to development of antiviral drugs, including those targeting smallpox, hemorrhagic fever and viruses such as Ebola.

• Sirna Therapeutics Inc., of Boulder, Colo., said it is evaluating the potential application of RNA interference-based therapies in diseases of the central nervous system, specifically Huntington's disease. Sirna has in-licensed patents from the University of Iowa Research Foundation covering neurological disease targets using RNAi technology.

• Synthetic Blood International Inc., of Costa Mesa, Calif., released further information on its planned Phase II trials of Oxycyte, a perfluorocarbon blood substitute. In the first Phase II, in orthopedic surgery patients who lose modest amounts of blood during surgery, Oxycyte's ability to prevent tissue hypoxia will be evaluated. In the second study, patients undergoing coronary bypass or heart-valve replacement surgery on a heart/lung machine will be treated. A third Phase II will test Oxycyte in surgical patients who lose enough blood to require blood or red cell transfusion to determine if it is a safer, more effective way of restoring oxygen delivery.

• Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., said it discovered two new classes of compounds that, in laboratory studies, partially restore the function of the defective cell membrane protein that is responsible for the progression of cystic fibrosis. The compounds act on the protein via two different mechanisms and support the belief that small molecules can correct the effective ion transport in laboratory tests in a reproducible manner. Vertex is working with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation on the research.

• Xerion Pharmaceuticals AG, of Munich, Germany, and Stemline Therapeutics Inc., of New York, entered a collaboration to identify protein targets expressed on cancer stem cells. Xerion will apply its Xstream technology to Stemline's cancer stem cell platform, StemScreen, to identify druggable oncology targets. The companies will share equally and have the option to co-develop targets arising from the collaboration.

• ZymoGenetics Inc., of Seattle, said partner Novo Nordisk A/S, of Bagsvaerd, Denmark, opted to exclusively license a limited number of proteins outside North America, as part of their existing agreement first signed in November 2000. Novo will extend the option agreement for two years until November 2006, paying ZymoGenetics $7.5 million each year. Upon selection of a protein, ZymoGenetics also would receive an up-front fee along with potential milestone and royalty payments. All previous terms of the original agreement still are in force. Novo has taken licenses to IL-21, IL-20 and the IL-20 receptor so far under the agreement. (See BioWorld Today, March 17, 2004.)

• Zen-Bio Inc., of Research Triangle Park, N.C., was awarded a $150,000 Small Business Research award, a loan from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center. It will support the company's work in adipocyte biology. Specifically, Zen-Bio is looking at the connection between obesity and Type II diabetes - and whether the disease is stronger in those with abdominal, visceral obesity compared to peripheral obesity - to develop diagnostics or preclinical targets.

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