• Affymetrix Inc., of Santa Clara, Calif., said its GeneChip Zebrafish Genome Array and Xenopus laevis Genome Array are now available. The Xenopus laevis array features more than 14,400 transcripts. It is based on the 2003 drafts of public data sources, including GenBank, dbEST and UniGene. The Zebrafish array can be used to study expression of more than 14,900 Zebrafish transcripts and is based on the recent 2003 updates to the RefSeq, GenBank, dbEST and UniGene databases, Affymetrix said.

• Agencourt Bioscience Corp., of Beverly, Mass., entered partnerships with five international distributors to provide access to its SPRI nucleic acid-purification chemistry. The distributors include GenWorks Pty. Ltd., covering Australia and New Zealand; Bluestar Ltd., covering India; Pharmatech Inc., covering Korea; BioLaboratories Pte. Ltd., covering Singapore; and Genetic Research Instrumentation Ltd., covering the UK and France.

• Angiotech Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Vancouver, British Columbia, said that shareholders of the company approved all matters at a special meeting, including a 2-for-1 stock split and a new stock-option plan. Votes cast by shareholders represented more than two-thirds of its 41.6 million outstanding shares with more than 99 percent in favor of the stock split and more than 85 percent in favor of the new stock option. Angiotech is dedicated to enhancing the performance of medical devices and biomaterials through the use of pharmacotherapeutics.

• Callisto Pharmaceuticals Inc., of New York, completed a private placement of about 3.9 million shares, raising $5.86 million. The company intends to use a portion of the net proceeds for working capital and to further the clinical trials of its lead cancer drug, Atiprimod.

• Chromatin Inc., of Chicago, entered partnerships with the National Research Council Canada Plant Biotechnology Institute in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and Cibus Genetics LLC, of San Diego, to generate canola plants containing mini-chromosomes. The two collaborations are the first projects to introduce mini-chromosomes into a plant with commercial value, the company said. Chromatin's mini-chromosome technology allows the simultaneous introduction of multiple genes into plants, without disrupting the plant's own chromosomes.

• Ciphergen Biosystems Inc., of Fremont, Calif., expanded its licensing agreement with Genencor International Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif., covering the production and marketing of products based on Genencor's Hydrophobic Charge Induction chromatography technology. Under the expanded terms of the agreement, Ciphergen has the exclusive worldwide right to use Genencor's technology for the production of MEP chromatographic sorbents, as well as MEP membranes. It also has the right to distribute products based on the technology and to subcontract MEP Hypercel manufacturing rights.

• Corautus Genetics Inc., of Atlanta, raised an additional $5.3 million of equity to fund its upcoming Phase IIb trial. The capital adds to the $8.9 million in cash and short-term investments that the company expects to report as of Dec. 31. The company sold 1.2 million shares of common stock for gross proceeds of $5.3 million to Vertical Ventures LLC, as well as four investment funds and a private investment account managed by Ardsley Partners. Those shares were priced at 90 percent of the average closing price of the common stock over the 20-day period prior to the execution of the contract.

• CytoGenix Inc., of Houston, entered an agreement with scientists at Baylor College of Medicine in Waco, Texas, for experiments using a combination of the company's ssDNA expression vector technology and Baylor's aerosol gene-delivery technology against a gene that, when silenced, inhibits tumor metastasis. CytoGenix develops and markets products based on its DNA expression technology.

The European Molecular Biology Laboratory, of Heidelberg, Germany, selected the CodeLink Bioarray System from Amersham Biosciences Corp., a unit of London-based Amersham plc, to perform gene-expression experiments in its developmental biology unit and genomics core facility. The parties will jointly organize training and access to CodeLink technology. Researchers are using the mouse as a model system to better understand the underlying molecular changes in the transformation of pituitary tumors from the benign to the aggressive malignant stage.

• Forest Laboratories Inc., of New York, reported that a study published in the current issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association concludes that Namenda with a stable dose of donepezil provides greater cognitive, functional, global and behavioral benefits to people with moderate to severe Alzheimer's disease than treatment with donepezil alone. The results of the study mark the first time that positive results were observed when using a combination of two drugs for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, the company said.

• Genencor International Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif., along with collaborators from the University Campus Bio-Medico in Rome, identified an immunogenic region in the human interferon-beta protein sequence that activates human CD4+ helper-T cells, the required first step in the cascade that can lead to the production of neutralizing antibodies that inhibit the beneficial actions of interferon-beta. Administration of recombinant interferon-beta is the standard-of-care treatment for relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis patients, and the production of neutralizing antibodies might reduce the effectiveness of the treatment in up to 30 percent of MS patients. The data were published in Wednesday's issue of Genes and Immunity.

• Hard to Treat Diseases Inc., of Delray Beach, Fla., said preliminary preclinical efficacy results of Tubercin in treating mice with metastatic melanoma showed that the product appeared to have a certain effect in delaying tumor development during the early stage of treatment. The overall tumor growth in the treatment groups was slower than that of the control group during the first 20 days. Tubercin is a nontoxic, nonaddictive immunostimulant designed to increase the strength of the immune system.

• Ingenium Pharmaceuticals AG, of Munich, Germany, agreed to provide Wyeth, of Madison, N.J., with genetic rat models with alterations in genes specified by Wyeth. The models will be developed using Ingenium's Ingenotyping technology. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• Inproteo, of Indianapolis, formerly known as the Indiana Proteomics Consortium, licensed U.S. Patent No. 4,569,794, the fusion protein-purification technique known commonly as "His Tag," and its foreign counterparts, to Genentech Inc., of South San Francisco. Inproteo focuses on the development of proteomic discovery tools and methods. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• Laureate Pharma LP, of Princeton, N.J., entered a manufacturing agreement with Discovery Laboratories Inc., of Doylestown, Pa. Laureate Pharma will provide manufacturing services that support Discovery Labs' product requirements. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. In the first part of the manufacturing plan, Discovery Labs transferred its manufacturing equipment to Laureate's microparticle manufacturing facility in Totawa, N.J.

• Medical Discoveries Inc., of Twin Falls, Idaho, closed a private placement of restricted common stock with gross proceeds of $1.1 million. The funds will be used to complete preclinical work and chemistry, manufacturing and control work to support an investigational new drug application filing for MDI-P later this year. If approved, the company will initiate Phase I trials in HIV at Harvard Medical School.

• Metabolex Inc., of Hayward, Calif., reported a one-year extension of its research collaboration with Pfizer Inc., of New York. The collaboration, first initiated with Parke-Davis (since acquired by Pfizer) in December 1998, is aimed at discovering Type II diabetes drugs that counteract defects in insulin secretion. Privately held Metabolex receives research funding from Pfizer and also would receive royalties on eventual sales on any emerging product. More specific financial details were not disclosed.

• Micrologix Biotech Inc., of Vancouver, British Columbia, said it met with the FDA to address the regulatory requirements for a new drug application for MBI-226, a topical cationic peptide in Phase III development for the prevention of catheter-related bloodstream infections. The company said the approval path can be achieved without the requirement for a statistically significant reduction in catheter-related bloodstream infections as a primary endpoint. The requirements, which may include a confirmatory second Phase III study, will be established in consultation with the FDA over the next several months, using secondary endpoints from a first Phase III study completed in July as a basis for seeking approval. That study showed that MBI-226 achieved a statistically significant reduction in two secondary endpoints - catheter colonization (p=0.002) and catheter-related local infections (p=0.004) - as compared to povidone-iodine. (See BioWorld Today, July 24, 2003.)

• NicOx SA, of Sophia-Antipolis, France, said its partner, Biolipox AB, of Stockholm, Sweden, reported the start of Phase II trials in allergic rhinitis with the NicOx compound NCX 1510. It is the first compound to be selected from the ongoing research and co-development agreement between the two companies for the discovery and development of compounds in the respiratory field. The Phase IIa study is an out-of-season allergen provocation study to be carried out at Lund University Hospital involving 36 patients. Results are expected in mid-2004.

• Orexigen Therapeutics Inc., of Princeton, N.J., completed a Series A financing that raised $11 million. Investors included Domain Associates, Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers and Sofinnova Ventures.

• Plantacor Inc., of Houston, entered an exclusive license agreement with the Texas A&M University System in College Station for patents and intellectual property related to substituted Diindolymethane analogues derived from cruciferous vegetables for treatment of cancers and other diseases. The agreement is focused on compounds that have been shown to inhibit cancer cell growth and impart apoptosis.

• Pluristem Life Systems Inc., of Haifa, Israel, consummated a private placement equity investment with a group of individual and institutional investors representing gross proceeds of $1.5 million. Pluristem is focused on the development of adult stem cell-expansion technology.

• Progen Industries Ltd., of Brisbane, Australia, began a new Phase II trial of its lead cancer compound, PI-88, with two patients starting treatment this week. The trial is the first of three new PI-88 Phase II trials to be initiated in the near future, the company said. The other Phase I trials scheduled are, respectively, the evaluation of PI-88 in combination with Taxotere for the second-line treatment of advanced non-small-cell lung cancer and PI-88 as an adjuvant single-agent therapy in post-operative liver cancer patients.

• SpectruMedix LLC, of State College, Pa., and Transgenomic Inc., of Omaha, Neb., entered an agreement for Transgenomic to distribute SpectruMedix's Reveal Genetic Analysis Systems in Europe. Transgenomic's European marketing organization will market, sell and service the SpectruMedix systems. The reveal system is a multicapillary gel electrophoresis instrument. Its scalability to support high-throughput genetic variation discovery and its DNA sequencing capability complement the Transgenomic WAVE System's ability to detect low-abundance genetic variation and to purify DNA fragments of interest from mixtures of normal and variant DNA.

• VaxGen Inc., of Brisbane, Calif., received fast-track designation from the FDA for the anthrax vaccine candidate rPA102. The company is developing the compound under two National Institutes of Health contracts, valued at $100 million combined. Also, VaxGen said that three of its senior executives - Donald Francis, Phillip Berman and Carter Lee - will leave the company to pursue the formation of a not-for-profit foundation for the advancement of HIV vaccine research and development. VaxGen was formed in 1995 to develop an HIV vaccine, but has more recently shifted its focus to other biologic products, particularly biodefense vaccines.

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