• Affymetrix Inc., of Santa Clara, Calif., reported that Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development LLC, of La Jolla, Calif., is the first company to gain early access to the new GeneChip HighThroughputArray Human Genome Ul33 Array, a standard 96-well plate, which will have a GeneChip Human Genome Ul33 array in each well. The company said that the system will process hundreds of biological samples per day.

• Aptamera Inc., of Louisville, Ky., began a Phase I trial of AGRO100 in cancer. The company said the trial is the first clinical trial testing nucleic acid aptamers in cancer. The primary objective of the study is to demonstrate levels of the drug that can be safely administered to patients and to track how the drug is spread and cleared through the body. AGRO100 is a G-rich oligonucleotide that binds to nucleolin, a protein found on tumor cell surfaces and involved in cancer cell proliferation.

• Argenta Discovery Ltd., of Harlow, UK, said it completed a step in its collaboration with Pharmagene plc, of Royston, UK, on Pharmagene's R1, irritable bowel syndrome, therapeutic program. The milestone involved the identification of a series of candidate new chemical entities, which resulted in the payment of a bonus to Argenta.

• Avanir Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, said its Xenerex technology has generated multiple antibodies that demonstrate potency against anthrax toxins in vitro and in vivo and against anthrax spores in vivo. Mice protected by a single dose of one of its lead antibodies, AVP-8C1, against a lethal challenge of anthrax spores, remained protected on subsequent exposure to anthrax spores four weeks later. The immunity conferred by the antibody appears to assist in the establishment of long-lasting immunity, the company said.

• BioReliance Corp., of Rockville, Md., completed its acquisition of Q-One Biotech Group Ltd., of Glasgow, Scotland. BioReliance paid the purchase price of about £42 million (US$69.6 million) in cash, subject to post-closing adjustments and excluding transaction costs, using about $48.2 million of funds borrowed under its senior credit facilities and approximately $19.7 million of cash resources. Q-One provides biopharmaceuticals testing and manufacturing services.

• BTG plc, of West Conshohocken, Pa., invested in Xention Discovery Ltd., of Cambridge, UK, as part of a $6.5 million private equity financing. Xention is using its technology to discover and develop drug candidates that act on ion channels. In addition to BTG, new investors included Quester, of London; Albany Ventures, of Edinburgh, Scotland; and Enterprise Venture Capital Trust plc (advised by Noble Fund Managers Ltd., also of Edinburgh) who join existing investors MVM Ltd. and Isis Equity Partners plc. The financing was co-led by BTG and Quester.

• Callisto Pharmaceuticals Inc., of New York, filed an investigational new drug application for its cancer drug Atiprimod. The planned Phase I/IIa trial is an open-label study in patients with refractory or relapsed multiple myeloma. Atiprimod has completed Phase I/IIa trial in rheumatoid arthritis and has shown activity against a range of solid tumors in in vivo screens.

• Cell Therapeutics Inc., of Seattle, reported that Xyotax was featured in five presentations at the European Cancer Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, this week. Two of the presentations, both studies of Xyotax in combination with platinates in patients with solid tumors, report preliminary data that showed an overall response rate of 68 percent, or 30 of 44 patients. Xyotax links paclitaxel to a biodegradable polyglutamate polymer.

• Cellegy Pharmaceuticals Inc., of South San Francisco, said it has enrolled more than 100 of the targeted 150 patients needed to complete its Phase III trial with Cellegesic (nitroglycerin ointment) for the treatment of pain associated with chronic anal fissures. The primary endpoint of the study was the reduction in pain over a 21-day period, compared with 56 days for the previous studies.

• Chiron Corp., of Emeryville, Calif., filed a registration statement with the SEC relating to the resale of $500 million principal amount of its 1 5/8 percent convertible debentures due 2033 and the shares of its stock issuable upon conversion of the debentures. The debentures were originally issued in a private placement in July, when Chiron agreed to sell 30-year convertible debentures to institutional buyers, raising about $450 million. The company will not receive any proceeds from any resale by the selling security holders of the debentures or the shares of stock issuable upon conversion of the debentures. (See BioWorld Today, July 28, 2003.)

• Chromatin Inc., of Chicago, received $2.7 million in grants from the National Institute of Standards and Technology's Advanced Technology Program in Gaithersburg, Md., to develop mini-chromosomes, the first technology to enable simultaneous introduction of multiple genes into plants. The grants will be used to advance Chromatin's technology focusing on improved crops for agricultural, industrial and pharmaceutical products.

• Commonwealth Biotechnologies Inc., of Richmond, Va., signed new contracts in the third quarter valued at $2 million, it said. The total of new contract work signed so far in 2003 is nearly $5.5 million. The highlight of the new contract signings is an award from the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) on behalf of the state of Minnesota for DNA fingerprint analysis on back-logged convicted offender case samples. The NIJ contract, valued at about $500,000, was issued under the auspices of the president's Initiative to Advance Justice through DNA Technology. The contract spans the period of September 2003 through August 2004.

• Conforma Therapeutics Corp., of San Diego, said a newly identified biochemical difference between malignant cells and normal cells points to a molecular target for the development of selective cancer drugs. Research on the biochemical difference was published in Nature by scientists from Conforma. Conforma scientists have shown that heat shock protein 90 (Hsp90) exists in a specific activated, high-affinity form in tumor cells that differs from the inactive form of Hsp90 found in normal cells. The activated Hsp90 explains the selectivity of Hsp90 inhibitors for tumor cells, Conforma said.

• EpiTan Ltd., of Melbourne, Australia, signed an agreement with pSiMedica Ltd., a subsidiary of pSivida, of Perth, Australia, aimed at developing liquid-based, sustained-release formulation for Melanotan using pSivida's BioSilicon nanotechnology. Melanotan is being investigated as a therapy for vitiligo, albinism and psoriasis, as well as other indications.

• FASgen Inc., of Baltimore, entered a research collaboration agreement with P&G Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cincinnati, for the development of products to treat obesity, diabetes and related disorders based on FASgen's compounds that affect fatty-acid metabolism. The agreement has the usual terms and conditions for payments to FASgen for joint research development work, up-front money, milestones and royalties, FASgen said. FASgen's C-75 has demonstrated the capacity to cause a dose-dependent loss of weight in vivo in multiple species.

• Flamel Technologies SA, of Lyon, France, filed with the SEC a preliminary prospectus supplement to its recently filed shelf registration statement relating to a proposed underwritten offering of 3.8 million ordinary shares in the form of ADSs, consisting of 2 million shares of stock offered by the Company and 1.8 million shares by a selling shareholder. Flamel is developing its Medusa nanoparticulate technology and its Micropump technology for drug delivery.

• GeneThera Inc., of Wheat Ridge, Colo., began work on an animal vaccine using its Purivax technology, it said. The technology is designed to improve biological purity and viral titer of recombinant adenovirus and AAV vectors.

• Genmab A/S, of Copenhagen, Denmark, initiated a Phase I/II trial using HuMax-EGFr to treat patients suffering from head and neck cancer. The trial is expected to include a maximum of 36 patients. Patients will receive a single dose of HuMax-EGFr from one of six dose groups and will be followed for four weeks before receiving four further doses of HuMax-EGFr at weekly intervals.

• GlycoFi Inc., of Lebanon, N.H., was awarded a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. The award will support a $1 million research project during an 18-month period to further develop GlycoFi's automated, high-throughput approach for the engineering of humanized yeast proteins.

• Hydra Biosciences Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., appointed Matthew Gantz president and CEO. Most recently, he served as divisional vice president and general manager at Europe/ROW of Chiron Corp.'s biopharmaceuticals division. The company uses cell-based assays to discover proteins and small molecules that reprogram a patient's mature cells within the body by restoring damaged or destroyed tissue without scarring.

• ID Biomedical Corp., of Vancouver, British Columbia, said it filed a registration statement with the SEC regarding a proposed offering of 5 million shares. The company filed an equivalent preliminary short-form prospectus with the securities regulatory authorities in British Columbia, Albert, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Ontario. In addition to the shares being offered, ID Biomedical is proposing to grant the underwriters an overallotment option to acquire up to an additional 750,000 shares for a period of 30 days after closing.

• Idun Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, said the FDA granted orphan drug designation for the use of IDN-6556 to treat patients undergoing liver transplantation and other solid organ transplantations. IDN-6556 is designed to protect liver cells from apoptosis. IDN-6556 is in Phase II trials for the treatment of a number of hepatic diseases, including hepatitis C.

• Large Scale Biology Corp., of Vacaville, Calif., was awarded a two-year research grant by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a division of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., to investigate the potential of Large Scale's plant viral vector technology for producing preventive and therapeutic HIV-1 peptide vaccines. The grant will allow Large Scale to determine the versatility of its vaccine technology, it said.

• Lorus Therapeutics Inc., of Toronto, and its subsidiary, NuChem Pharmaceuticals Inc., and Cyclacel Ltd., of Dundee, UK, entered an exclusive worldwide license agreement for the development and commercialization of Lorus' preclinical compound NC 381. The agreement extends to other drug candidates that Cyclacel may identify from a library of clotrimazole analogues licensed by NuChem from Harvard Medical School in Boston in 1997. Lorus will receive up-front fees of $400,000 and could receive milestone payments. The achieving of all milestones could total $11.6 million for NC 381, and similar milestone payments for each of any other compounds developed from the compound library. In addition to those payments, Lorus would receive royalties. Cyclacel will be responsible for all future drug development costs.

• MultiCell Technologies Inc., of Warwick, R.I., a wholly owned subsidiary of Exten Industries Inc., completed the training and transfer of two cell lines to XenoTech LLC, of Lenexa, Kan., and received $1.5 million due to the terms of a license agreement. The payment was part of the recently reported $18 million seven-year exclusive licensing and distribution agreement of two of MultiCell's cell lines. (See BioWorld Today, Aug. 21, 2003.)

• PharmaStem Therapeutics Inc., of Wayne, Pa., and StemCyte Inc., of Arcadia, Calif., said they entered an agreement under which StemCyte obtained a license to PharmaStem's patent portfolio. Both companies' work includes the umbilical blood and stem cell areas. Two of the patents have been asserted by PharmaStem in a lawsuit for patent infringement in the U.S. District Court of Delaware against several companies as defendants.

• Pozen Inc., of Chapel Hill, N.C., said results of a Phase IIIb study demonstrated that MT 100 provides superior sustained pain relief over placebo for patients in the early treatment of migraine. MT 100 is being developed as an oral first-line therapy for the treatment of migraine, and the company submitted its new drug application for the drug in late July. The Phase IIIb study involved 332 patients. (See BioWorld Today, Aug. 1, 2003.)

• SciClone Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Mateo, Calif., completed the planned enrollment of 500 patients in the first of its two Zadaxin Phase III hepatitis C trials. SciClone said it intends to complete enrollment of 500 patients for its second Phase III HCV trial by the end of the first quarter of 2004. The company expects all 1,000 patients to have completed the 12-month course of therapy and six-month follow-up observation period by the second half of 2005.

• Tripos Inc., of St. Louis, reported an extension to its agreement with Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., of New York, to integrate Tripos FormsBuilder technology, a forms-based querying tool for retrieval and browsing of research data, into Bristol-Myers' Smart-Idea application. The form-based searching technology is designed to enable scientists to customize their own forms and combine queries requesting chemical structures with more traditional data. The FormsBuilder is scheduled to be deployed to Bristol-Myers in 2004.

• Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., is the subject of a class-action suit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The suit is on behalf of purchasers of Vertex stock between March 27, 2000, and Sept. 24, 2001. The complaint alleges that during the period, defendants artificially inflated the price of Vertex stock by concealing material information regarding its p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase program, for the compound VX-745. Vertex suspended development of the drug in September 2001. (See BioWorld Today, Sept. 25, 2001.)

• VizX Labs, of Seattle, and Genome Explorations, of Memphis, Tenn., agreed to enhance VizX's GeneSifter.net online microarray analysis system and deliver it as the preferred tool for Genome Exploration's scientific clients. Financial details were not disclosed.