• Abbott Laboratories, of Abbott Park, Ill., said new Phase II data demonstrate that patients with moderate to severe chronic plaque psoriasis receiving Humira (adalimumab) achieved statistically significant results after 12 weeks, with more than 50 percent of patients achieving at least a 75 percent improvement in measurements of disease extent and severity with 40-mg every-other-week dosing, and some patients achieving that level at four weeks. Additionally, at 12 weeks, 49 percent and 76 percent of patients taking Humira 40 mg every other week or 40 mg weekly, respectively, were clear or almost clear of their disease activity as measured by the Physician's Global Assessment. The data were presented at the American Academy of Dermatology annual meeting in Washington, which runs through Wednesday.

• Agencourt Bioscience Corp., of Beverly, Mass., awarded Patricia Dahia, instructor of medicine at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, the $10,000 Agencourt Pan-Mass Genomic Services Grant. The grant is being presented as part of Agencourt's sponsorship of the 2003 Pan-Massachusetts Challenge. The goal of her study is to identify the gene(s) responsible for familial pheochromocytoma syndrome, a rare tumor of the adrenal gland.

• Amgen Inc., of Thousand Oaks, Calif., said a global Phase III study of Enbrel (etanercept) demonstrated that a significant number of psoriasis patients given initial doses of Enbrel for three months achieved psoriasis clearing and then maintained the response while receiving half the drug dose. The data were presented at the American Academy of Dermatology annual meeting in Washington. The study involved 583 patients with moderate to severe psoriasis, of which 49 percent treated with loading dose achieved 75 percent improvement in the Psoriasis Area Severity Index in the first 12 weeks of the study.

• Anadys Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, achieved the first research milestone in its collaboration with Amgen Inc., of Thousand Oaks, Calif. The collaboration uses Anadys' affinity-based screening technology, Atlas, against both Anadys' and Amgen's compound collections to discover compounds against a specific target provided by Amgen. The collaboration was formed in February 2003.

• Biogen Idec Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., said preliminary results of an ongoing combination study suggest that adding Amevive (alefacept) to common psoriasis treatments, including topical steroids, methotrexate, cyclosporine and phototherapy, improves the treatment outcome for patients with moderate to severe chronic plaque psoriasis, compared to baseline. After receiving one course of therapy, 86 percent of patients with severe psoriasis and 67 percent of patients with moderate to severe psoriasis experienced improvement in the Physician's Global Assessment by at least one category compared to baseline. The results were presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology in Washington.

• Boston Biomedica Inc., of West Bridgewater, Mass., extended until the end of 2004 the consultant agreement with its founder Richard Schumacher, the company's former CEO and chairman and a current director. Schumacher will continue in an advisory role directing the company's Pressure Cycling Technology and BBI Source Scientific activities, and its interest in the spin-out Panacos Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Gaithersburg, Md.

• Cambridge Antibody Technology Group plc, of Cambridge, UK, and Genzyme Corp., of Cambridge, Mass., reported preliminary results from a Phase I/II trial of CAT-192, a human anti-TGF (beta) monoclonal antibody. The primary objective of the trial was to assess safety, tolerability and pharmacokinetics of CAT-192 in patients suffering from diffuse systemic sclerosis. The double-blind, placebo-controlled trial enrolled 45 patients. Preliminary results showed that the primary objective was met. For the secondary objective of the trial - to evaluate the potential clinical outcomes for any future trial in systemic sclerosis, a number of clinical endpoints and biological markers, potentially indicative of disease progression, were evaluated. Preliminary review of those markers indicated that disease duration and gender played important roles in the results. Given those factors and the small sample size, the company said no definitive conclusions can be drawn.

• Curis Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., reported that the current issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology contains an article describing studies in which administration of BMP-7 prevents the development of adynamic bone disease in a preclinical model of chronic kidney failure. BMP-7, a signaling protein made in the kidney, has been implicated in the maintenance of the normal health of the kidney, the skeleton and the vascular system. BMP-7 was developed by Curis and is licensed to Ortho Biotech, a unit of Johnson & Johnson, of New Brunswick, N.J.

• Discovery Laboratories Inc., of Doylestown, Pa., said its board adopted a shareholder rights plan under which all shareholders of record will receive rights to purchase shares of a new series of preferred stock. The rights will be distributed as a non-taxable dividend and will expire in 10 years from the record date. The rights will be distributed and exercisable if a person or group acquires 15 percent or more of the company's common stock. The company said the plan was not in response to circumstances related to any potential change of control.

• Endovasc Inc., of Montgomery, Texas, enrolled 34 patients in the Phase II trial for Liprostin at six sites in Mexico and Europe. The trial is for patients with peripheral vascular disease, including critical limb ischemia and intermittent claudication, but who do not require angioplasty. The company began prescreening candidates in December. Liprostin is a liposome-encapsulated form of prostaglandin E1.

• Genelabs Technologies Inc., of Redwood City, Calif., completed patient enrollment in a confirmatory Phase III trial of Prestara (prasterone), a drug to treat women with systemic lupus erythematosus. The trial enrolled 155 women at 26 centers in the U.S. and Mexico. The primary endpoint is bone mineral density at the lumbar spine. Genelabs is developing Prestara as a treatment to limit bone loss in women with lupus who are taking glucocorticoids.

• Incyte Corp., of Wilmington, Del., and Pharmasset Inc., of Atlanta, announced preliminary results of a 10-day Phase II trial of Reverset, which demonstrated a significant reduction in viral load in treatment-na ve HIV patients. No serious adverse events were seen. The companies will release full results at a scientific meeting this week.

• NeurogesX Inc., of San Carlos, Calif., said NGX-4010 demonstrated a mean decrease in pain intensity of 40 percent that remained stable for 12 weeks from a single, one-hour application. The drug was tested in 12 patients with HIV-associated neuropathy. Two-thirds of the patients experienced pain decreases of 30 percent or more. The drug showed good safety and tolerability. The trial will enroll 300 patients total. NGX-4010 is a topical treatment for neuropathic pain.

• NexMed Inc., of Robbinsville, N.J., entered an agreement with a Japanese pharmaceutical company to develop NM100120, a local anesthetic gel to treat pain associated with dental procedures, skin surgery, skin-graft harvesting and needle insertions. NexMed received an up-front payment and is eligible for milestone payments and potential royalties. NexMed retained worldwide manufacturing and commercialization rights to the new product in all countries except Japan and Korea.

• NitroMed Inc., of Bedford, Mass., and the Wellcome Trust in London reported that NitroMed signed a licensing and commercialization agreement with the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and the University of St. Andrews in Fife, Scotland, to develop nitric oxide-based medicines for the treatment of acute renal failure. The agreement provides the universities with the use of NitroMed's intellectual property. In exchange, the company has a right of first refusal to commercialize any results from the collaborative research project.

• Novogen Ltd., of Sydney, Australia, subsidiary Marshall Edwards Inc. said early data regarding its ovarian cancer drug phenoxodiol shows it acts as a cancer agent and a chemo-sensitizing agent that restores responsiveness to ovarian cancer cells to standard chemotherapies. Researchers from Yale University School of Medicine reported the data Sunday at the 35th Annual Meeting of the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists.

• OctoPlus Technologies BV, of Leiden, the Netherlands, said controlled release of recombinant human growth hormone from OctoDEX microspheres can be achieved over two weeks while maintaining functional activity of the protein. The technology is based on the formation of microspheres, in which the biopharmaceutical drug is encapsulated in its natural form.

• Ortec International Inc., of New York, said results of a pivotal trial evaluating the use of the frozen version of its tissue-engineered product, OrCel, in the treatment of difficult to heal venous leg ulcers, were presented at the American Academy of Dermatology annual meeting in Washington. In the study, there was higher incidence of wound closure, reduction in time to healing, acceleration of wound closure, durability of wound closure and reduced pain, the company said. Ortec also said it expects to file the final module of its premarket approval application by the end of the week.

• Panacos Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Gaithersburg, Md., received clearance from the FDA for its investigational new drug application to begin clinical trials of the company's lead compound, PA-457. PA-457 is the first in a new class of HIV drug candidates called Maturation Inhibitors, with activity against HIV strains resistant to currently approved drugs. A Phase I study of PA-457, administered orally, will be initiated in the near future.

• Samaritan Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Las Vegas, and Samaritan Research Labs expanded a relationship with Georgetown University in Washington. Samaritan is increasing its funding commitment and expanding the scope of the development in the core areas of AIDS, Alzheimer's disease, cancer and cardiovascular diseases. It also will continue to have the right of first refusal to exclusively license results. Funding was extended five years to 2013 and the university will hire more researchers.

• Transgene SA, of Strasbourg, France, announced encouraging Phase II data from its MVA-Muc1-IL2 cancer vaccine in lung, prostate and kidney cancers. The trials are evaluating the drug in combination with chemotherapy for lung cancer, at different dosing schedules for prostate cancer, and in combination with immunotherapy for kidney cancer. The company completed enrollment in the Phase II trials in lung and kidney cancers. The trials showed good tolerance and safety at all doses, and an encouraging rate of tumor responses in lung cancer. Researchers also noticed a significant decrease in prostate-specific antigen progression rate in the prostate cancer trial.

• Transkaryotic Therapies Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., received Canadian approval to market Replagal (agalsidase alfa) enzyme replacement therapy to treat Fabry's disease. The company will complete post-marketing studies as part of the approval agreement. TKT will market and sell the drug, while Paladin Labs Inc., of Montreal, will exclusively distribute it in Canada.

• V.I. Technologies, of Watertown, Mass., was awarded a federal grant totaling $885,000. The grant provides funding over a two-year period that will be administered by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. The funded work relates to Vitex's Inactine Pathogen Reduction red cell process for removing pathogen-inactivating compounds from blood.

• Vical Inc., of San Diego, received $6 million in orders for production of DNA vaccines under two subcontracts managed by Frederick, Md.-based SAIC-Frederick Inc., for the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Production will begin in the first half of this year.

• Xechem International Inc., of New Brunswick, N.J., said it anticipates revenues of between $6 million and $12 million in 2005, mostly from sales of the sickle cell disease drug Nicosan (hemoxin) in Nigeria. The company has been providing the drug on a compassionate basis since February 2003, but it expects the commercial launch to occur in the first half of 2005.

• YM BioSciences Inc., of Mississauga, Ontario, said the Toronto Stock Exchange accepted a notice from the company that it may purchase for cancellation up to about 1.7 million voting common shares - or 10 percent of the public float - from Feb. 11, 2004, through Feb. 10, 2005. The price to be paid will be the market price at the time of the acquisition.

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