• Acambis plc, of Cambridge, UK, said it is to collaborate with the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva on the development of Acambis' investigational vaccine ChimeriVax-JE against Japanese encephalitis. WHO will provide assistance and funding for pediatric trials of ChimeriVax-JE in endemic countries. In the first instance, WHO will assist with a trial. The trial will investigate the safety, tolerability and immunogenicity of ChimeriVax-JE in age groups stepping down to the target population of infants in their second year of life.

• Antisoma plc, of London, and EMD Lexigen Research Centre, of Boston, co-developed a cancer therapy based on the application of EMD Lexigen's immunocytokine technology and using Antisoma's antibody huBC1 and the antitumor cytokine interleukin-12. The companies call the approach ATTACK (Anti-tumor Therapy with Targeting Antibodies and Cytokines). EMD Lexigen and Antisoma created an immunocytokine fusion protein incorporating huBC1 and IL-12. The protein has been shown to have antitumor effects in animal models of several different cancers.

• Biogen Idec, of Cambridge, Mass., reported that virtual screening successfully identified an inhibitor against a drug target for fibrosis and cancer. The research is among the first to demonstrate that appropriately guided virtual screening can be used as a complementary approach to high-throughput screening. The research is published in Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters and highlighted in the December 2003 issue of Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, Biogen Idec said.

• BioMosaics Inc., of Burlington, Vt., licensed a diagnostic test for primary liver cancer from the Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Centre in Toronto. The agreement covers exclusive, worldwide rights to a system to detect primary hepatocellular carcinoma using a monoclonal antibody to glypican-3 known to have increased expression in the cancer and shown to be detectable in tissue specimens and serum. The company also focuses on treatment of cancer and autoimmune disease.

• BioTransplant Inc., of Medford, Mass., said its board approved the liquidation of its remaining assets, though the company projects any resulting proceeds likely would not be sufficient to provide any distribution to shareholders. Earlier this year, BioTransplant and its wholly owned subsidiary Eligix Inc. filed for bankruptcy to reorganize and eventually emerge from Chapter 11, with the prospect of realizing long-term value for shareholders from its intellectual property. But the company acknowledged that the plan has not proved sufficient to meet such goals. (See BioWorld Today, March 3, 2003.)

• Cell Therapeutics Inc., of Seattle, completed enrollment in its STELLAR 3 trial after accruing 370 patients at 80 U.S. and European sites. The trial, one of three pivotal Phase III studies in non-small-cell lung cancer patients, compares Xyotax (polyglutamate paclitaxel) combined with carboplatin to paclitaxel combined with carboplatin at an equivalent dose. The study's primary endpoint is to determine if Xyotax improves the survival of PS2 patients when compared to conventional paclitaxel-based therapy. It began a little more than a year ago. The second PS2 trial, named STELLAR 4, evaluates whether Xyotax increases the survival rate in the front-line treatment of PS2 lung cancer patients when compared to either gemcitabine or vinorelbine. The third trial compares Xyotax as a single agent to the approved dose of docetaxel in a broader patient population that also includes lower-risk PS0 and PS1 patients in the second-line treatment of lung cancer. (See BioWorld Today, Oct. 8, 2002.)

• ComGenex Inc., of Budapest, Hungary, and Bayer Healthcare, a division of Bayer AG, of Leverkusen, Germany, renewed their exclusive chemistry collaboration for the sixth straight year, they said. ComGenex will focus on improving the overall properties of compound libraries by applying design criteria and extending chemical diversity. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• Harvard Bioscience Inc., of Holliston, Mass., paid about $5.3 million in cash to acquire certain assets and liabilities of the 1-dimensional electrophoresis business of Amersham Biosciences Corp., a unit of Amersham plc, of London. The purchase includes the Hoefer brand name, under which the acquired business has generally been conducted. The parties also entered a global distribution agreement for a minimum of five years with an option to renew, whereby Amersham will continue to distribute and support 1-dimensional electrophoresis products manufactured by Harvard Bioscience under the Amersham brand. Also, Harvard Bioscience will develop new products for Amersham, which committed to certain purchase volumes during the first three years.

• Hybridon Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., said its application to list its common shares on the American Stock Exchange was approved. The company expects that trading on AMEX will begin Dec. 5. Its common stock will continue to trade on the Over-the-Counter Bulletin Board until that date. Hybridon focuses on the discovery and development of therapeutics based on synthetic DNA.

• Inpharmatica Ltd., of London, said that Aventis SA, of Lyon, France, entered a nonexclusive multiuser agreement for Biopendium, a proteome annotation resource. Inpharmatica said Biopendium can play a key role in accelerating drug discovery. Biopendium will be installed onsite at Aventis and is designed to allow Aventis researchers access to 10 billion precalculated protein relationships derived from more than 1.4 million sequences from 150 different genomes. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• Keryx Biopharmaceuticals Inc., of New York, in connection with the S.O.A.R. (Sulodexide Open Access Research) program, entered into a S.O.A.R. collaboration with the University of Michigan on behalf of Benedict Lucchesi, professor of pharmacology. Lucchesi and his research team will assess the potential benefit of KRX-101 (sulodexide) in the treatment of cardiovascular injury. KRX-101 is in a Phase II/III program for the treatment of diabetic nephropathy.

• Maxim Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, presented results at the 2003 Cancer Drugs Research and Development conference in San Diego highlighting the discovery capabilities of the company's caspase-based screening technology. Maxim researchers have used the high-throughput system to screen more than 40 compound families that induce apoptosis in cancer cells and are candidates for development as anticancer agents.

• Odyssey Thera Inc., of San Ramon, Calif., entered an agreement with Pfizer Inc., of New York, to profile compounds across Odyssey Thera's panel of cell-based assays in order to further characterize mechanism of action and pathway activity. Odyssey Thera's patented Protein-Fragment Complementation Assay technology measures pathway activity within living cells and is applied across signaling pathways relevant to drug discovery in key therapeutic areas. Odyssey Thera probes the biochemical networks of living cells to identify on-target and off-pathway activities of drugs and lead compounds. The company has validated this approach in its Known and Unknown Drug Optimization (KUDOS) program.

• Orchid BioSciences Inc., of Princeton, N.J., said its Orchid Cellmark unit was awarded two contracts from the FBI to develop specific aspects of the company's SNP technology for additional forensic DNA-testing applications. The goal of the contracts is to develop forensic tools that will increase the ability of investigators to identify individuals using DNA samples that have degraded and therefore contain a limited amount of genetic material. Work on both of the contracts is being undertaken in Orchid Cellmark's Dallas facility and is expected to be completed in about one year.

The University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine said its researchers published findings in this month's issue of Immunity showing that the cytokine interleukin-27 might suppress CD4+ T cells that orchestrate the immune system's response to infections. Because IL-27's actions don't seem to stimulate the immune system, it could prove to be a target for drug discovery. The results stem from studies in which animal models first were challenged with a toxoplasma infection. Their immune systems were able to fight off the parasite, but their immune response continued well after the parasites were controlled. Researchers, instead, found a surplus of activated T cells and increasing amounts of interferon-gamma, a cytokine that activates antigen-presenting cells and other parts of the immune system.

• Purely Proteins Ltd., of Cambridge, UK, said it received a first round of venture funding. Purely Proteins was established to exploit the need for human proteins in pharmaceutical research, the company said. The company uses its affinity purification technologies and computational software for information integration to identify relationships between discovery targets and their corresponding chemical ligands.

• Salix Pharmaceuticals Ltd., of Raleigh, N.C., submitted an amendment to its new drug application for Rifaximin in response to the FDA approvable letter of Oct. 25, 2002. The amendment includes results of a 399-patient Phase III study, findings from two drug-drug interaction studies, data from a pharmacokinetics study and responses to chemistry-manufacturing controls queries. The company is seeking approval to market Rifaximin, a nonsystemic, gastrointestinal, site-specific antibiotic, as a treatment for travelers' diarrhea.

• Tercica Inc., of South San Francisco, postponed its initial public offering due to market conditions. The company, which is developing therapies for endocrine disorders such as diabetes and human growth diseases, first filed two months ago for an $86.25 million IPO. It is the third company in the past month to delay or postpone its offering. TolerRx Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., postponed its IPO until it can analyze preclinical data from one of its products to determine what impact the results might have on development timelines. Aderis Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Hopkinton, Mass., postponed and eventually withdrew its IPO after not being satisfied with market conditions. (See BioWorld Today, Sept. 15, 2003; Oct. 30, 2003; and Nov. 21, 2003.)

• Theravance Inc., of South San Francisco, said results from a study with its investigational intravenous pharmacokinetically responsive sedative/hypnotic THRX-918661 were recently presented at the 2003 annual meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists in San Francisco. The study demonstrated the compound's predictable offset in animal models, it said.

• Tranzyme Inc., of Research Triangle Park, N.C., and NeoGenesis Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., expanded their collaboration to include additional genes of therapeutic interest. The collaboration will continue in the areas of gene expression and drug discovery and will use Tranzyme's TexT (Tranz Expression Technology) in support of the chemical genomics program at NeoGenesis. The companies entered their collaboration in August 2001. (See BioWorld Today, Aug. 29, 2001.)

• Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, of Costa Mesa, Calif., said it plans to offer about $275 million in principal amount of senior notes due 2011. Ribapharm Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Valeant, will also be an obligor with respect to the notes, jointly and severally with Valeant, until certain events occur.

• ViroPharma Inc., of Exton, Pa., entered an option agreement to license U.S. and Canadian rights to its intranasal formulation of pleconaril for the common cold to Schering-Plough Corp., of Kenilworth, N.J. Schering-Plough will pay an up-front option fee of $3 million to ViroPharma, which will then conduct clinical studies to evaluate the compound's antiviral activity, safety and other performance characteristics. Results are scheduled for the middle of next year, at which time Schering-Plough has the option to trigger a full license agreement under which it would assume responsibility for all future U.S. and Canadian development. Should it exercise its option, ViroPharma will receive an initial license fee of $10 million and Schering-Plough will purchase existing inventory of bulk drug substance for an additional pre-determined fee. ViroPharma also would be eligible to receive additional milestone payments as well as royalties on eventual sales.

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