• Auxeris Therapeutics Inc., of St. Louis, completed a $1.6 million extension to its Series A financing round, bringing the total to $4.1 million. Investors in the round were Domain Associates and RiverVest Venture Partners. The company plans to use the funds to advance its lead clinical candidates for bone metastasis and osteoporosis prevention, and to develop additional therapeutic clinical candidates for bone disease.

• AVI Biopharma Inc., of Portland, Ore., presented confirmatory positive results on the inhibition of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus using its Neugene antisense drugs. The cell culture studies evaluated multiple strategies targeting the antisense technology for inhibition of the SARS coronavirus. Several of the design strategies produced positive results of at least a 10-fold reduction in viral expression.

• Cellomics Inc., of Pittsburgh, raised $5.3 million in a financing round. Investors included Carl Zeiss MicroImaging Inc.; Oxford Bioscience Partners; Vector Fund Management LP; InterWest Partners; Alta California Partners; Burrill Biotechnology; Axiom Venture Partners; and CK Capital. Cellomics has developed a drug discovery platform based on cellular knowledge extraction.

• Chiron Corp., of Emeryville, Calif., said the SEC declared effective its registration statement relating to the resale of $500 million principal amount of its 1.625 percent convertible debentures due 2033 and the shares of its common stock issuable upon conversion of the debt. They originally were issued in a private placement last summer. Chiron will not receive any proceeds from any resale by the debt sellers or the shares issuable upon conversion of the debentures. (See BioWorld Today, July 28, 2003.)

• Covalent Group Inc., of Wayne, Pa., and AbC.R.O. Inc., of Sofia, Bulgaria, signed an agreement for the marketing and delivery of clinical development services on a global basis. The agreement provides for the alignment of standard operating procedures and information technologies between the parties.

• Dyax Corp., of Cambridge, Mass., raised net proceeds of about $44.8 million after closing its previously reported public offering of 6 million common shares, including the full exercise by the underwriter to purchase an additional 780,000 shares. Gross proceeds totaled about $47.6 million. Dyax said it would use proceeds for general corporate purposes, including funding ongoing clinical trials and operations. (See BioWorld Today, Jan. 5, 2004.)

• FeRx Inc., of San Diego, said the FDA approved plans for a Phase I/II trial using its MagneTarg drug delivery system to deliver Magnetic Targeted Carriers combined with the chemotherapeutic agent mitomycin C to patients with non-small-cell lung cancer via intra-arterial administration. The proposed study is an escalating-dose cohort trial in up to 50 symptomatic NSCLC patients who are no longer responsive to conventional treatment. The study is expected to begin soon, the company said.

• Genaissance Pharmaceuticals Inc., of New Haven, Conn., completed an analysis of DNA samples for the U.S. Department of Agriculture as part of the USDA's effort to trace the origin of the animal infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease. Genaissance's chief technology officer said the company sees the use of DNA testing for animal identity and traceability as a new market opportunity. Its stock (NASDAQ:GNSC) gained 88 cents Friday, or 30.1 percent, to close at $3.73.

• Genome Therapeutics Corp., of Waltham, Mass., concluded a research collaboration with Amgen Inc., of Thousand Oaks, Calif. Announced a year ago, the agreement was focused on discovering and developing therapeutics for bone diseases and resulted in the discovery of a gene, triggering a milestone payment to Genome Therapeutics and an equity investment from Amgen last August. Genome Therapeutics retains certain intellectual property and licensing rights related to the gene discovery. Separately, Genome Therapeutics received a $3 million cash payment after selling its pending patent applications relating to Streptococcus pneumoniae to Aventis Pasteur, the vaccines business of Aventis SA, of Lyon, France. The applications relate to key gene and protein sequences from the genome of S. pneumoniae, a common cause of respiratory tract infections. Genome Therapeutics will retain certain intellectual property rights that relate to its pathogen genetic sequence database and for its infectious diseases diagnostics development program. (See BioWorld Today, Jan. 3, 2003.)

• ImClone Systems Inc., of New York, received a $5 million equity milestone payment from Merck KgaA, of Darmstadt, Germany, upon the Swiss approval of Erbitux. The drug was approved to treat patients with colorectal cancer who no longer respond to standard chemotherapy treatment with irinotecan. ImClone issued 127,199 shares of stock to Merck following the payment. In December 1998, Merck licensed the right to develop Erbitux outside of the U.S. and Canada and the co-exclusive right to develop it in Japan.

• Large Scale Biology Corp., of Vacaville, Calif., began shipping test quantities of its plant-produced recombinant aprotinin product (rAprotinin) to prospective customers for research and development and manufacturing applications. The company said it is on schedule to begin sales of its research-grade rAprotinin by mid-year. Aprotinin is a protease inhibitor marketed for medical, research and biomanufacturing applications.

• Orchid BioSciences Inc., of Princeton, N.J., is seeking stockholder approval to implement a reverse stock split ranging from 1-for-3 shares to 1-for-7 shares. The company also has called for the redemption of all of its outstanding Series A convertible preferred stock by Feb. 6. The redemption price is equal to $10,000 per share of Series A stock, plus accrued and unpaid dividends. Orchid's stock (NASDAQ:ORCH) fell 20 cents Friday, or 10 percent, to close at $1.80.

• SIGA Technologies Inc., of New York, received the final portion of a $10 million investment from MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings Inc., also of New York, and TransTech Pharma Inc., of High Point, N.C. MacAndrews & Forbes invested about $1.8 million after purchasing about 1.3 million common shares at $1.44 apiece and warrants to purchase up to an additional 639,095 shares at an exercise price of $2 apiece. TransTech invested $5 million after purchasing about 3.5 million shares and warrants to purchase up to an additional 1.7 million shares on the same terms. SIGA and privately held TransTech are parties to a drug discovery collaboration. SIGA, which is developing infectious disease therapies, said it would use the funds for research and development, the pursuit of growth opportunities and general corporate purposes.

• Sinovac Biotech Ltd., of Beijing, said its shares are now listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and the Berlin Stock Exchange under the symbol "SVQ." The company, whose shares already are traded on the Over-the-Counter Bulletin Board under the symbol "SNVBF," said the added listing would assist in the exposure of Sinovac to the European financial market and enable easier and more efficient trading of the stock.

• Speedel Group, of Basel, Switzerland, raised an additional CHF19.2 million to complete a mezzanine financing round worth CHF71.3 million (US$58 million). The initial CHF52.1 million tranche closed in July. The privately held company, which has raised about CHF172 million since its 1998 inception, said it would use the latest funds to expand the activities of Speedel Experimenta AG, its late-stage research unit currently focused on identifying and optimizing renin inhibitor compounds for cardiovascular disease.

• Zonagen Inc., of The Woodlands, Texas, said that based on the preliminary results of its self tender offer, about 6.8 million common shares, including about 61,000 issuable upon exercise of options tendered by directors for repurchase, were properly tendered and not withdrawn. Zonagen is accepting about 6.8 million shares at a purchase price of $2.10 apiece, and as a result will have about 4.7 million shares outstanding following payment for the tendered shares. Zonagen reported cash and marketable securities of $22.9 million (unaudited) and current liabilities of $635,000 (unaudited) at Dec. 31, exclusive of any shares purchased through the tender offer. Its stock (NASDAQ:ZONA) gained 46 cents Friday, or 24.7 percent, to close at $2.34.

• ZymoGenetics Inc., of Seattle, licensed from Inproteo, of Indianapolis, a U.S. patent for the fusion protein purification technique known commonly as "His Tag," and its foreign counterparts. ZymoGenetics will use the technique for all of its biopharmaceutical research, development and commercialization activities. Inproteo was granted a license to the patent from Eli Lilly and Co., of Indianapolis, with exclusive right to issue sub-licenses. Inproteo is a partnership between Indiana University, Purdue University and Eli Lilly.

No Comments