• Aastrom Biosciences Inc., of Ann Arbor, Mich., said registered shareholders of the company can purchase up to an aggregate of 10 million newly issued shares of stock through its direct stock-purchase program, unless otherwise noted in the prospectus. The purchase program is in response to interest on the part of the company's large individual and family ownership base. A repurchase program allows registered shareholders the chance to purchase shares of a company's common stock without incurring fees associated with trading through a brokerage house.

• BioSpecifics Technologies Corp., of Lynbrook, N.Y., said the Ross Products Division of Abbott Laboratories, of Abbott Park, Ill., will assume U.S. marketing responsibility for Collagenase Santyl Ointment beginning Jan. 1. Abbott, through the former Knoll Pharmaceutical business it acquired in 2001, currently manufactures Collagenase Santyl Ointment using BioSpecifics' collagenase ABC enzyme as the essential ingredient. The ointment is used for debridement of chronic dermal ulcers and second- and third-degree burns. BioSpecifics said the availability of collagenase ABC enzyme for manufacturing into Santyl Ointment is expected to increase next year as a result of the previously announced approval by the FDA of its enzyme manufacturing plant in Curacao, the Netherlands Antilles.

• CombiMatrix, a unit of Acacia Research Corp., of Newport Beach, Calif., said there would be a delayed launch of matriXarray, a product in development with Roche Diagnostics, a division of F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd., of Basel, Switzerland. Roche informed CombiMatrix that it would not launch the product suite this year, as previously indicated, and the companies have not set a new launch date.

• ConjuChem Inc., of Montreal, said the underwriters from its bought-deal financing fully exercised their 780,000-share overallotment option. The shares were priced at $4.15 apiece. The exercise increases total gross proceeds from the Oct. 6 offering to about $24.9 million. The underwriting syndicate was led by Orion Securities Inc., and included Sprott Securities Inc. and BMO Nesbitt Burns Inc.

• Cubist Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Lexington, Mass., said it began shipping the antibiotic Cubicin (daptomycin for injection) to U.S. hospitals. The drug, indicated for the treatment of complicated skin and skin-structure infections caused by Gram-positive bacteria, including those caused by MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and MSSA (methicillin-susceptible S. aureus), was approved by the FDA about two months ago. (See BioWorld Today, Sept. 16, 2003.)

• Cyntellect Inc., of San Diego, said Eli Lilly and Co., of Indianapolis, will use Cyntellect's Laser Enabled Analysis and Processing (LEAP) technology to implement high-throughput RNA interference (RNAi) studies for evaluation of target gene function. The platform delivers high-speed laser-mediated transfection (LaserFect) and cell purification (Opto-Clean), resulting in a 100 percent rate of transfection efficiency by achieving RNAi in thousands of targeted cells per second, followed by laser elimination of cells in which transfection did not occur. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• CytoGenix Inc., of Houston, entered an agreement with the DermPharm division of DermTech International Inc., of San Diego, to characterize human epidermal cell delivery and uptake of the gene silencing DNA topical formulation against herpes. CytoGenix's pipeline includes a topical anti-herpes formulation.

• Endovasc Inc., of Montgomery, Texas, said research conducted at the Houston-based Texas Heart Institute's Heart Failure Research Lab indicates nicotine has significant effects on both the proliferation and differentiation of mouse embryonic stem cells. The findings confirm and extend earlier studies that support the theory that nicotine can boost stem cell regenerative powers in patients with chronic or congestive heart failure, the company said. Further studies are planned to identify the proteins and determine their role in cellular development.

• Genaera Corp., of Plymouth Meeting, Pa., reported that a presentation was made on squalamine preclinical research at the XVII FIGO World Congress of Gynecology and Obstetrics in Santiago, Chile. The presentation highlighted the anti-angiogenic effects of squalamine that correlated with squalamine-induced blockade of the rapid vascular endothelial growth factor-stimulated phosphorylation of p42/p44 MAP kinase in endothelial cells, an early cell response to activate proliferation. Squalamine also reduced VEGF-induced phosphorylation of focal adhesion kinase and stress-activated protein kinase 2/p38, which block assembly of F-actin stress fibers in endothelial cells. Genaera's stock (NASDAQ:GENR) rose 72 cents, or 17.5 percent, to close at $4.84.

• Genentech Inc., of South San Francisco, and IDEC Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, said the American Society of Hematology released an abstract that contains initial data from a Phase III study showing that patients with newly diagnosed diffuse large B-cell lymphoma who received Rituxan plus CHOP chemotherapy demonstrated a prolongation in time to treatment failure as compared to patients receiving CHOP alone. The study, conducted by the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group, randomized patients to receive either six to eight cycles of cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisolone (CHOP) chemotherapy alone or CHOP in combination with four to five doses of Rituxan (rituximab). The addition of Rituxan to CHOP did not influence the overall response rate in the induction phase. The drug was approved in 1997 for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. (See BioWorld Today, Dec. 1, 1997.)

• Genomatica Inc., of San Diego, received a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Human Genome Research Institute, a branch of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. The two-year award for about $765,000 will further support the company's program to integrate high-throughput experimental data with its computer models of cellular metabolism.

• Inflazyme Pharmaceuticals Ltd., of Vancouver, British Columbia, reported it began Phase Ib trials in the UK with GH9001, an antithrombotic compound being developed for the prevention of blood clotting in vascular diseases. The Phase Ib study is a double-blind, placebo-controlled, multidose study in healthy subjects. GH9001 is a formulation of a medium-molecular-weight heparin and a highly sulfated, low-molecular-weight dermatan sulfate. A Phase II study is expected to be initiated in 2004.

• Interleukin Genetics Inc., of Waltham, Mass., acquired about 5 percent of the outstanding equity of Molecular SkinCare Ltd., a start-up biotechnology company located in Sheffield, UK, in exchange for granting Molecular SkinCare and Asterion Ltd., an affiliate of the University of Sheffield, rights in certain intellectual property licensed to Interleukin by the university. The equity was transferred to Interleukin by the University of Sheffield. The transaction did not involve the payment of cash or issuance of stock by Interleukin.

• Isis Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Carlsbad, Calif., said it is broadening two RNA-based drug discovery and development programs: micro-RNA drug discovery and antisense drug discovery targeting the coronavirus associated with severe acute respiratory syndrome. The Singapore Economic Development Board's Biomedical Sciences Group will support research in both of those programs. Isis will establish a Singapore-based research effort to discover and identify the function of micro-RNAs and to design and optimize antisense inhibitors and small-molecule drugs to therapeutically attractive micro-RNA targets. New drug candidates that emerge from the work will be based on Isis' antisense and Ibis technologies.

• Jerini AG, of Berlin, reported that the company successfully passed its first milestones in two research alliances with Baxter Healthcare Corp., of Deerfield, Ill., in 2001 and 2002. Jerini has optimized peptide lead molecules identified against two undisclosed targets applying its Peptides-to-Drugs platform, including SPOT, pepSTAR and pepMed. Although financial terms were not disclosed, one agreement provides for an up-front payment, full-time employee (FTE) funding and milestones as well as performance payments for Jerini on the commercial sale of products. Under the second agreement, Jerini receives FTE funding and is eligible for future success-based milestone and royalty payments.

• Kos Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Miami, said it plans to publicly offer 3.75 million common shares pursuant to an effective shelf registration statement to raise funds to acquire or in-license complementary products and/or for other strategic objectives and general corporate purposes. Also, a large shareholder plans to sell up to 1.25 million shares in the offering, though the company will not see proceeds from the sale. Separately, Kos and Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America Inc., a unit of Takeda Chemical Industries Ltd., of Osaka, Japan, entered a three-year agreement to co-promote Kos' Niaspan and Advicor in the U.S. The arrangement adds more than 1,000 sales representatives to Kos' existing sales force to detail the extended-release cholesterol disorder products. Kos' stock (NASDAQ:KOSP) rose $4.20 Tuesday, or 10.5 percent, to close at $44.20.

• Medarex Inc., of Princeton, N.J., said it received a "significant" milestone under its agreement with Amgen Inc., of Thousand Oaks, Calif., triggering an undisclosed payment to Medarex, which signed a five-year antibody development agreement in September 1999 with Amgen, under which Medarex is using its HuMAb-Mouse technology to generate fully human monoclonal antibodies to multiple targets for Amgen. Amgen is responsible for product development, manufacturing and marketing of any products.

• Miikana Therapeutics Inc., of Fremont, Calif., and NovImmune SA, of Geneva, established a collaboration to develop fully human antibody-based therapeutics for the treatment of cancer and immune diseases. The resulting synergies between Miikana's oncology product focus and NovImmune's monoclonal antibody technologies are designed to enable both companies to move antibody drug candidates quickly from discovery research to the clinic.

• Molecular Devices Corp., of Sunnyvale, Calif., said it has settled a patent infringement lawsuit filed against it by Caliper Technologies Corp., of Hopkinton, Mass., involving the former's IMAP products. The companies have signed a nonexclusive license agreement under which Molecular Devices agreed to pay to Caliper a one-time licensing fee as well as royalties based on future sales of IMAP products. Financial details were not disclosed.

• Neurochem Inc., of Montreal, reported positive results on cognitive function as measured by ADAS-cog in patients suffering from mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease in an open-label Phase II extension study. Neurochem is reporting on the first 10 patients out of the 33 enrolled in the ongoing study who have now completed nine months of treatment on the highest dose of the investigational product candidate, Alzhemed. The data revealed that patients with mild AD (n=6) showed the greatest benefits from Alzhemed as compared to patients with moderate AD patients (n=4). The company expects to release a full report on the study in the first quarter.

• OriGene Technologies Inc., of Rockville, Md., reported the addition of the Kinase CloneSet, a designated subset of more than 500 full-length kinase cDNA clones, to their TrueClone Collection product line. The Kinase CloneSet approaches the predicted 518 putative genes in the "Kinome" and represents the largest commercial source of full-length human kinase genes, the company said.

• PharmaNetics Inc., of Raleigh, N.C., filed a lawsuit against Aventis Pharmaceuticals Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Aventis SA, of Lyon, France, alleging that the pharmaceutical firm has engaged in false and misleading advertising of its second-largest drug, Lovenox (enoxaparin sodium). The suit stems from PharmaNetics' allegation that Aventis is not promoting a bedside test developed by both parties to enhance the way Lovenox is managed. Three years after the collaboration began, PharmaNetics said Aventis isn't promoting the test and is telling physicians that the test is not necessary through its claims of "no monitoring" and "therapeutic from dose one."

• Regeneration Technologies Inc., of Alachua, Fla., a processor of orthopedic, cardiovascular and other allograft implants, said the sale of its two former buildings to the University of Florida was completed Friday. The sale price was $3.1 million. The University of Florida will use the buildings, located in the Progress Corporate Park in Alachua, to house its new Center of Excellence in Regenerative Health Biology.

• Salix Pharmaceuticals Ltd., of Raleigh, N.C., purchased exclusive rights from aaiPharma LLC, of Wilmington, N.C., to sell Azasan (azathioprine tablets) in North America. Salix will pay an up-front fee plus royalties on net sales. AaiPharma will supply Salix with product. Azasan prevents rejection of transplanted organs.

• Shamrock Structures LLC, of Chicago, a structural proteomics company, was launched with the help of Flavin Ventures, of Woodridge, Ill. The new company will offer integrated services in structural proteomics, including protein cloning, expression, purification and crystallization. Flavin Ventures is an early stage venture capital and management group for Midwestern life sciences companies focused on drug discovery.

• Shionogi & Co. Ltd., of Osaka, Japan, entered a joint research agreement with the University of Hokkaido to pair carbohydrate-related functional bioinformatic technology developed at the school with Shionogi's research and development strategy for computer-assisted molecular design of novel medicines. Shionogi will use the technology to create next-generation biopharmaceuticals under the direction of professor Shin-ichiro Nishimura. In return, Shionogi will establish a chair in biomolecular technology at the university.

• Spectral Diagnostics Inc., of Toronto, reported the launch of its Endotoxin Activity Assay for the Canadian health care market at the 8th annual Toronto Critical Care Medicine Symposium, which opened Friday. The meeting brings together intensive care specialists from around the world focused on critical care issues including sepsis and severe acute respiratory syndrome.

• SRI International, of Menlo Park, Calif., received a three-year $1.52 million contract from the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., to synthesize selected chemical carcinogens, derivatives of polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons, and chemopreventive agents of interest to the cancer research community. The independent research and development organization will gain access to the compounds through the NCI's Chemical Carcinogen Reference Standard Repository.

• Tularik Inc., of South San Francisco, plans to offer 5 million shares of its common stock in an underwritten public offering pursuant to an effective shelf registration statement. Underwriters will be given the option to purchase up to an additional 750,000 shares of common stock to cover overallotments. All shares will be sold by Tularik. Goldman, Sachs & Co., of New York, is the book-running and lead manager for the offering. SG Cowen Securities Corp., UBS Securities LLC and SunTrust Robinson Humphrey are co-managers.

• XOMA Ltd., of Berkeley, Calif., exercised its option to defer payment of $40 million of its convertible loan from Genentech Inc., of South San Francisco, related to the development of Raptiva. The deferred portion will be paid out of XOMA's 25 percent share of U.S. operating profits generated from future Raptiva sales. XOMA will pay the balance of the loan with preference shares of its stock before the end of the year, shares that will be convertible into common shares at $7.75 apiece. The total development loan balance reported as of June 30 was $69.6 million. (See BioWorld Today, Oct. 29, 2003.)

• YM BioSciences Inc., of Mississauga, Ontario, received FDA approval to begin a pivotal Phase III trial of its lead anticancer therapeutic, tesmilifene. The multicenter international trial will compare the overall survival times of advanced metastatic/recurrent breast cancer patients receiving the small molecule in combination with epirubicin and cyclophosphamide vs. epirubicin/cyclophosphamide alone. Survival is the primary endpoint of the study, which includes a sequential design that allows an interim analysis after 50 percent of the planned number of deaths have occurred, and if necessary, every six months thereafter, without incurring any statistical penalty. If the required survival differential is achieved at the first interim analysis, YM said recruitment could be completed in about two years. The company announced its Phase III plans in March. (See BioWorld Today, March 5, 2003.)

• Zonagen Inc., of The Woodlands, Texas, updated its previously announced Dutch Auction tender offer to purchase up to about 9.8 million of its outstanding common shares at no more than $2.10 and not less than $1.83 per share. Pursuant to SEC rules, the company changed a provision regarding preferential purchases such that if more shares are tendered than Zonagen can purchase for an aggregate purchase price of $18 million, it will first purchase all shares held by stockholders holding less than 100 shares and then will purchase the remaining shares on a pro rata basis. It originally announced that the number would be 1,000 shares.

• Zyomyx Inc., of Hayward, Calif., said the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., selected the Zyomyx Protein Profiling Biochip System for use in their ongoing research into ocular disease, including inflammatory, autoimmune and other diseases of the eye. The Zyomyx human and mouse cytokine biochips provide a view of inflammation, enhancing proteomics-based approaches to elucidating the mechanisms underlying a host of diseases, the company said.

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