• Advancis Pharmaceutical Corp., of Germantown, Md., and Par Pharmaceutical Inc., of Spring Valley, N.J., signed a letter of intent to develop and market a low-dose, pulsatile form of amoxicillin, using Advancis' Pulsys technology. They expect to submit a new drug application in 2005. Par will pay Advancis $5 million over 12 months and fund development expenses going forward. Advancis is granting Par the exclusive right to sell and distribute the product and the coexclusive right to market it. Advancis is responsible for manufacturing. The companies will share equally in marketing expenses and profits.

• AEterna Laboratories Inc., of Quebec City, Quebec, said its subsidiary, Atrium Biotechnologies Inc., completed its acquisition of Pure Encapsulations Inc., of Boston, for C$50 million (US$37.4 million) in cash. Pure Encapsulations is privately held and focused on the development, manufacturing and marketing of nutritional supplements. The company had sales of more than C$25 million in 2003. The acquisition allows Atrium to add more than 270 products to its portfolio of nutritional supplements. Atrium financed the acquisition through a credit facility provided by Royal Bank of Canada, as well as subordinated loans from Solidarity Fund QFL and AEterna, and available company cash.

• Affymetrix Inc., of Santa Clara, Calif., entered an agreement with Aventis Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Bridgewater, N.J., that provides Aventis early access to the new GeneChip High-Throughput Array that uses a standard 96-well microtiter plate footprint to simultaneously process and analyze 96 GeneChip Human Genome U133A Arrays. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• Avlar BioVentures Ltd., of Cambridge, UK, said it sold the entire issued share capital of Sterix Ltd., of Oxford, UK, to Ipsen Group, of Paris. Sterix Ltd. develops therapeutics based on steroids and related molecules in the areas of oncology, women's health and hormone-associated diseases. Avlar acquired an interest in the company in May 2001. Ipsen gains expertise in the field of oncology and plans to continue work being done by Sterix in collaboration with Imperial College in London and the University of Bath. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• Basilea Pharmaceutica AG, of Basel, Switzerland, said it saw positive Phase II results for BAL5788 in complicated skin and skin-structure infections (cSSSI). BAL5788 is the first of a new class of broad-spectrum cephalosporin antibiotics also active against multi-resistant Gram-positive pathogens, such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. In March, the FDA awarded BAL5788 fast-track status. The study included 35 evaluable patients. The company is planning a Phase III trial.

• BioDiscovery Inc., of El Segundo, Calif., released version 2.6 of its GeneDirector software. The product is an enterprise microarray data-management platform for spotted arrays and arrays made by Affymetrix Inc., of Santa Clara, Calif.

• BioVision AG, of Hannover, Germany, entered a licensing agreement with F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd., of Basel, Switzerland, regarding BioVision's patent on the Differential Peptide Display technology that is designed to allow visualization of the peptides and small proteins within a sample and to analyze changes within the peptidome. The license allows Roche to use the patent nonexclusively for in-house purposes.

• Cedarburg Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Grafton, Wis., reported a $7 million investment by LOF Partners, the life sciences investment arm of Sanders Morris Harris Group Inc. The funds will be used to fund the growth of Cedarburg's business and to repay debt. As part of the financing, Cedarburg was reorganized as a Delaware company. Cedarburg works in drug development up through Phase III, drug manufacturing, generics and cytotoxic compounds.

• Celgene Corp., of Warren, N.J., said that Revimid was granted orphan drug designation for myelodysplastic syndromes by the European Commission following the favorable opinion of the European Agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal Products. Revimid is the lead development compound of a new class of immunomodulatory drugs, or ImiDs.

• CytoGenix Inc., of Houston, completed the first phase of preclinical animal studies for a sepsis drug. The proof-of-concept studies show that the company's lead DNA antibacterial compound controlled bacterial growth and subsequent sepsis in animals. The two studies involved 35 septic mice. All treated animals lived, and all untreated animals died, the company said.

• First Horizon Pharmaceutical Corp., of Alpharetta, Ga., priced its private offering of $125 million principal amount of 1.75 percent senior subordinated contingent convertible notes due 2024. The company granted initial purchasers an option to purchase up to an additional $25 million of such notes. Holders might require First Horizon to repurchase all or a portion of their notes in 2009, 2014 and 2019. The company intends to use the proceeds for future acquisitions of products, technologies and businesses and for general corporate purposes. The sale of the notes is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close March 8. First Horizon is a specialty pharmaceutical company that markets and sells prescription products with a primary focus on cardiology and women's health or pediatrics.

• GenoMed Inc., of St. Louis, secured potential long-term funding from Pierpont Investissements SA. The agreement called for a minimum annual investment of $500,000, up to a maximum of $2 million in any one year, for each of the next 10 years in exchange for 12-month restricted shares at a modest discount to market price. Pierpont will keep active warrants for an additional 35 million shares. Those can only be converted once the share price of GenoMed reaches at least $1. To limit dilution, only 7 million warrants will be convertible each year; it will take five years to convert the block of 35 million warrants to 12-month restricted shares.

• Hollis-Eden Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, reported the presentation of additional data relating to the molecular mechanism of action by which its immune-regulating hormone, Immunitin (HE2000), might regulate the immune system back toward homeostasis when used in the treatment of a variety of disease conditions. Molecular analysis indicates that Immunitin up-regulates antioxidant response genes, including glutamate-cysteine ligase modifier subunit gene and glutamate-cysteine ligase catalytic subunit gene, which together regulate glutathione homeostasis.

• ImmuneRegen BioSciences, of Scottsdale, Ariz., said a toxicity study of its compound Homspera showed no levels of toxicity, such as skin irritation, in tested animals. The company has decided to move forward in targeting male-pattern baldness as a potential application for Homspera.

• Isolagen Inc., of Houston, said the initial portion of its Phase III study is complete and early results show an efficacy of 77 percent with the Isolagen-treated group, as compared to a 36 percent response with the placebo-controlled group (p<0.0001). The study was conducted at 10 sites and had an intent-to-treat population of 158 patients with an evaluable population of 146 patients, mostly female. The study examined at four months the comparison of the therapy to other injectable treatments used for wrinkles and scars. The specialty pharmaceutical company is developing an autologous cellular therapy for hard- and soft-tissue regeneration, called the Isolagen Process.

• Kereos Inc., of St. Louis, entered a deal with Bristol-Myers Squibb Medical Imaging Inc., of N. Billerica, Mass., for the development and commercialization of molecular imaging agents. They will work together to develop molecular imaging agents for cardiovascular diseases and cancer using Kereos' core technology. Bristol-Myers obtained exclusive worldwide rights to develop and commercialize select cardiovascular imaging agents for magnetic resonance imaging. Kereos obtained exclusive worldwide rights to use a family of Bristol-Myers targeting molecules with its technology to develop and commercialize cancer imaging agents and targeted therapeutics, including KI-001, Kereos' lead candidate for early MRI detection of tumors. Financial terms of the agreements were not disclosed.

• Ligand Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, entered an agreement with Cardinal Health PTS LLC, a subsidiary of Cardinal Health Inc., of Dublin, Ohio, for the manufacturing and packaging of Avinza (morphine sulfate extended-release capsules). Avinza will be manufactured at the Cardinal Health facility in Winchester, Ky. Upon the successful completion of technology transfer and regulatory approval, manufacturing will begin for a five-year term. Ligand and Cardinal Health have an existing relationship for the fill/finish of Targretin capsules. Separately, Ligand said that its subsidiary, Seragen Inc., entered an agreement with Hollister-Stier Laboratories LLC, of Spokane, Wash., for the fill/finish of the approved cancer drug Ontak. The company also put out its fourth-quarter earnings, reporting Avinza sales of $32 million, up from $2 million in the fourth quarter in 2002. Its stock (NASDAQ:LGND) rose $2.10 Wednesday, or 13 percent, to close at $18.29.

• Molecular Staging Inc., of New Haven, Conn., said the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Mass., chose Molecular Staging's Repli-g whole-genome amplification technology to expand the amount of DNA available from more than 20,000 patient samples. Molecular Staging offers a range of whole-genome amplification products and services that can extract and amplify the human genome. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• Nabi Biopharmaceuticals Inc., of Boca Raton, Fla., said the FDA determined that the company's Altastaph (Staphylococcus aureus immune globulin [human]) for immediate protection against S. aureus infections in low-birth-weight infants) has received a fast-track designation.

• NeoGenesis Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., appointed Henry Skinner president and CEO. Skinner also was named to the board. He replaces Satish Jindal, who had been named chairman and chief scientific officer. Skinner previously was senior director, technology acquisitions and operations at Pfizer Inc., of New York. NeoGenesis is developing small-molecule drugs, both on its own and in collaboration with partners.

• Pluristem Life Systems Inc., of Haifa, Israel, said it is pursuing mergers and acquisitions of cord blood banks in the U.S. It is in negotiations with more than one U.S.-based cord blood bank, it said. Pluristem is focused on developing stem cell expansion technologies.

• St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, of Memphis, Tenn., said its scientists have found that a tumor-suppressor protein called Rb is required for proper development of the mouse retina, helping them understand why some children develop an eye cancer called retinoblastoma. An article about the research is published in the February 2004 issue of Nature Genetics. Hospital researchers also recently completed an international pilot study aimed at improving treatments of medulloblastoma, a childhood brain cancer. The study demonstrated that medulloblastoma samples could be delivered to a central research institution and analyzed. It also showed that by detecting the presence of the ERBB2 protein in tumor samples, doctors might be able to predict which children will require more intensive treatment. Research from that study will appear in the March 15, 2004, issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

• ThromboGenics Ltd., of Dublin, Ireland, and Geymonat SpA, of Catania, Italy, formed a collaboration to co-develop PIGF (placental growth factor), a drug candidate that has shown potential to treat ischemic heart disease. ThromboGenics will bring its exclusive rights to the therapeutic applications of PIGF to the collaboration, while Geymonat will bring its exclusive rights to the intellectual property that characterizes the protein sequence of PIGF.

• Weill Cornell Medical College in New York said its researchers have determined the 3-dimensional structure of a human enzyme that is similar to one found in the saliva of mosquitoes and other biting insects. The enzymes are part of a family of enzymes called apyrases. By re-engineering the human apyrase structure, the researchers were able to achieve a 100-fold boost in its ability to inhibit a blood clot-promoting compound called adenosine diphosphate.