• AngioGenetics AB, of Gothenburg, Sweden, formed a research agreement with the Tumor Biology Center Freiburg (TBCF), of Freiburg, Germany, to jointly validate drugs known to have an angiogenesis-modulating effect to treat cancer, ischemic heart disease and eye diseases. The drugs were identified in a screen performed at TBCF using the Spherogenex screening platform. AngioGenetics, which acquired rights to the results of the screen, said it aims to obtain strong use patents. Further details were not disclosed.

• Avant Immunotherapeutics Inc., of Needham, Mass., reported data showing that vaccines manufactured and dried using its VitriLife preservation technology remain stable and immunogenic, even when stored at or above normal room temperatures. The company is preparing to transfer its VitriLife technology to its new manufacturing facility, which will implement the process for all of Avant's vaccines. VitriLife, a method for the industrial-scale preservation of biological suspensions, such as proteins, enzymes, viruses, bacteria and other cells, uses a drying technology to encase biological materials in a glass-like carbohydrate coating that enables storage without refrigeration.

• Bioniche Life Sciences Inc., of Belleville, Ontario, said a controlled challenge study demonstrated the efficacy of the E. coli 0157 cattle vaccine developed by the company in partnership with the Vaccine & Infectious Disease Organization at the University of Saskatchewan, the University of British Columbia and the Alberta Research Council. The commercial vaccine formulation resulted in a 99.6 percent reduction in the amount of bacteria shed, and a 70 percent reduction in the number of animals shedding.

• BioSurface Engineering Technologies Inc., of College Park, Md., said data recently published in this month's Journal of Vascular Surgery suggest HepaSil, a chemically modified heparin designed for controlled drug release from medical devices, significantly improved the acute and sub-acute patency of small-bore synthetic vascular grafts. The company is developing the HepaSil drug delivery mechanism and other synthetic peptides for tissue regeneration.

• Celera Genomics Group, of Rockville, Md., completed the sale of its investment in Discovery Partners International Inc., of San Diego, from which it expects to receive net proceeds of about $32 million. The company sold about 7.2 million of Discovery Partners' common shares in the public offering, stock it acquired through its November 2001 purchase of Axys Pharmaceuticals Inc., of South San Francisco. (See BioWorld Today, May 7, 2004.)

• Covalent Group Inc., of Wayne, Pa., received a $2 million contract from an unnamed biopharmaceutical company to design a clinical trial and to provide medical writing consultative services in the planning of three trials and a patient disease registry. Covalent, which also will help start up the registry and the first of the trials, expects to receive additional contracts in the third quarter.

• Curis Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., said the current issue of the Journal of Oral Pathology and Medicine contains an article describing studies in which abnormal expression of the Hedgehog pathway was detected in ameloblastomas, aggressive tumors that occur primarily in the jaw. In June 2003, Curis exclusively licensed its Hedgehog pathway antagonist technologies to Genentech Inc., of South San Francisco. Abnormal Hedgehog pathway activation has been implicated in the progression of several cancers. In March, Genentech selected one of the Curis compounds as a clinical candidate for basal-cell carcinoma. (See BioWorld Today, June 12, 2003.)

• CV Therapeutics Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif., intends to offer $100 million in senior subordinated convertible notes. It also would grant the initial purchasers an option for an additional $25 million of the notes. CV Therapeutics would use net proceeds to repurchase a portion of its outstanding convertible debt, including subordinated debt, and to fund an escrow account for the first six interest payments on the notes. The remaining proceeds would be used for general corporate purposes, including funding research, development and product manufacturing, preclinical and clinical trials, regulatory filings, product commercialization and capital expenditures.

• Evotec OAI AG, of Hamburg, Germany, and F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd., of Basel, Switzerland, entered a worldwide discovery chemistry agreement. The companies have had three chemistry alliances since 2001, when Evotec began supporting four Roche sites in the design and synthesis of chemical compounds. The relationship was broadened last year to a medicinal chemistry agreement.

• GlycoGenesys Inc., of Boston, began a Phase I dose-escalation trial of GCS-100LE in multiple solid-tumor cancer indications. GCS-100LE, described as a substantially ethanol-free formulation of the company's cancer drug candidate GCS-100, is being developed as a cancer therapeutic administered alone or in combination with a variety of cancer therapies. Separately, the company countered an announcement by Pro-Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Newton, Mass., regarding the return of patents by GlycoGenesys, which it said misled some shareholders. GlycoGenesys said it "remains free to pursue the commercialization of GCS-100" in the U.S., Europe and other countries.

• Ingenium Pharmaceuticals AG, of Munich, Germany, acquired from Incyte Corp., of Wilmington, Del., U.S. patents to develop and provide for partners genetic rat and mouse models, including knockouts and hyper- and hypomorphic models. Ingenium previously licensed the patents for the models that were developed using its Ingenotyping technology, a method of producing rodent models with subtle gene alterations. The technology is based on a chemical process that generates point mutations in genes and Ingenium's expertise in producing and analyzing mammalian models of disease.

• Juvaris BioTherapeutics Inc., of Pleasanton, Calif., and SomaGenics Inc., of Santa Cruz, Calif., entered a collaboration to develop products combining their technologies. The approach combines the RNA-based gene-inhibition technology of SomaGenics with the immunomodulatory and vaccine technology under development by Juvaris. The effort is directed toward developing methods for inhibition of pathogenesis, stimulation of innate immunity and the development of specific immunity to disease-related antigens.

• Lorus Therapeutics Inc., of Toronto, said its scientists discovered low-molecular-weight compounds with anticancer and antibacterial activity, following three years of research. Lorus signed a collaboration agreement with the University of Toronto to further develop the compounds. A grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada/Collaborative Research and Development will partially fund the development of the compounds, which have shown in vivo activity in animal models of infections, as well as in vivo efficacy in a xenograft model of human colon adenocarcinoma.

• Marligen Biosciences Inc., of Ijamsville, Md., released its Multiplexed Transcription Factor System, a tool that measures more than 10 different activated transcription factors simultaneously to allow scientists to analyze 100 nuclear extracts in less than three hours.

• Momenta Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., said it plans to offer 5.35 million shares in its initial public offering at a price ranging from $13 to $15 apiece. The company, which is applying the chemistry and biology of complex sugars to drug development, registered for its IPO two months ago. (See BioWorld Today, March 15, 2004.)

• NovaRx Corp., of San Diego, received a $2.2 million Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., to conduct a pivotal Phase II/III trial of its brain cancer vaccine. The grant is payable over a four-year period. NovaRx, which plans to begin the trial next year, is in discussions with private investors and corporate partners to secure more funds to complete development of both its brain and lung cancer treatments, as well as to advance a vaccine to treat colorectal cancer. The company also is conducting a Phase II lung cancer trial of a vaccine consisting of non-small-cell lung cancer cell lines that have been genetically modified with transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) antisense technology. TGF-beta is an agent commonly produced by cancer cells that helps the cells hide from the immune system. NovaRx's technology blocks the production of TGF-beta.

• Novogen Ltd., of Stamford, Conn., began a Phase Ia trial of its new cancer compound, NV-18, which is derived from phenoxodiol. It is being evaluated for late-stage ovarian and prostate carcinomas, and will be administered orally, by bolus injection and by intravenous infusion over four hours. NV-18 is a product of the Novogen diphenolic synthetic analogue program that is creating drugs against specific types of cancer.

• ParAllele BioScience Inc., of South San Francisco, entered an agreement to use its single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) discovery and genotyping technologies to discover and characterize common and rare variants among a portfolio of genes identified by Merck & Co. Inc., of Whitehouse Station, N.J. Financial terms were not disclosed, though Merck is funding the study. Separately, ParAllele said it would provide its MegAllele SNP genotyping platform to the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md. The genotyping kits will allow researchers to screen SNPs in a single laboratory reaction with a single molecular probe per marker.

• Phase 2 Discovery Inc., of Cincinnati, received a $1.25 million Phase II Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Institute of Mental Health of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. The award will support the company in developing its synthetic melatonin analogue PD-6735 for primary insomnia. Specifically, it will fund a Phase II trial examining PD-6735's safety and efficacy in primary insomnia patients.

• Senetek plc, of Napa, Calif., extended its agreement with the research foundation under which Senetek is licensed to manufacture and sell monoclonal antibodies used to research various diseases, including Alzheimer's disease. The license for three cell lines was extended from this July through September 2005. Afterwards, Senetek is to submit to the foundation by Dec. 31 its business plan for the continued manufacture, marketing and sale of monoclonal antibodies covered by the foundation's licenses. Upon approval by the foundation all licenses will be extended through June 2011. Senetek will pay the foundation a one-time extension fee and guarantee royalty receipts for the 12 months ending June 30, 2005, on par with the past several years.

• Theravance Inc., of South San Francisco, said data reported at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases in Prague, Czech Republic, detailed findings from a series of four in vitro and in vivo studies, as well as clinical studies, with the investigational antibiotic telavancin (TD-6424). Highlights from the various studies included evidence of rapid bactericidal activity and efficacy of telavancin in a mouse model of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus pneumonia; and Phase I data demonstrating that no dose adjustments of telavancin are warranted in elderly subjects with normal renal and hepatic function. Separately, privately held Theravance said its alliance with GlaxoSmithKline plc, of London, was consummated and funded, after receiving the requisite regulatory and Theravance shareholder approvals. Theravance received $129 million in the deal. (See BioWorld Today, April 1, 2004.)

• Viragen Inc., of Plantation, Fla., extended its agreement with the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla., and UM/Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center to develop an immune-enhancing drug that has shown promise in animal studies by inhibiting growth in a range of cancers. The agreement continues to provide Viragen with an option to acquire an exclusive worldwide license to commercialize the technology.

• Vyteris Inc., of Fair Lawn, N.J., said the FDA approved its new drug application for its LidoSite Topical System. The system was approved for use on normal intact skin to provide a local analgesia that numbs skin prior to the administration of superficial dermatological procedures such as venipuncture, intravenous cannulation and laser ablation of superficial skin lesions. The product is approved for patients 5 years and older.

• YM BioSciences Inc., of Mississauga, Ontario, said data published in the May 1, 2004, issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology concluded that TheraCIM hR3 is a well-tolerated drug that might enhance radiation-induced tumor responses in patients with unresectable head and neck cancers. The purpose of the Phase I/II trial was to evaluate TheraCIM, a humanized anti-epidermal growth factor receptor monoclonal antibody, in combination with radiotherapy in unresectable head and neck cancer patients.