• Agencourt Bioscience Corp., of Beverly, Mass., introduced QuickLane Research Sample Sequencing, a sequencing service for individual research samples. Researchers now can submit a single sample for sequencing using Agencourt's genomics pipeline and receive results within 24 to 48 hours.

• Alnylam Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., entered a licensing agreement with Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., for intellectual property related to the method for inducing gene silencing through RNA interference (RNAi) in adult mammals. More specifically, the co-exclusive therapeutic license is related to a patent application and related technology based on the research of Mark Kay, Anton McCaffrey and colleagues at the university's medical school, encompassing the demonstration that delivery of synthetic small interfering RNA molecules to an adult mammal can induce in vivo silencing of a specific target gene. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• Antigenics Inc., of New York, presented results from a Phase I trial of the company's personalized cancer vaccine, Oncophage (HSPPC-96), in patients with nonmetastatic pancreatic cancer, at the annual European Cancer Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. In the pilot study that included 10 evaluable patients, patients in the trial experienced a median overall survival of 2.5 years, with one patient still alive and disease-free after more than five years, and two patients alive and disease-free 2.5 years and 2.2 years after treatment. Antigenics also presented findings from a Phase II trial of Aroplatin in metastatic colorectal cancer refractory to standard therapy. To date, one of the 15 evaluable patients has demonstrated a partial clinical response and two have experienced disease stabilization.

• Asterand Inc., of Detroit, made available a new bank of material for researchers focused on eye diseases. The material could aid in research related to the genetic basis for a range of diseases, including glaucoma, advanced macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. The bank includes materials from systemic diseases affecting the eye such as vascular disease and hypertension.

• Auxilium Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Norristown, Pa., reported long-term clinical data showing that treatment with Testim testosterone gel can significantly increase bone mineral density and improve body composition in aging hypogonadal men. In the open-label, multidose, multicenter study, 291 hypogonadal males with a mean age of 58 years were followed for 12 months. By month 12, following treatment with Testim gel at 100 mg/day, serum testosterone levels were in the normal range and the average bone mineral density of the lumbar spine rose 2.75 percent, a significant increase. Body composition also improved significantly with a 2.42 percent increase in lean body mass and 2.35 percent decrease in fat mass.

• Biogen Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., said Avonex (interferon beta-1a) was shown to alter the long-term course of multiple sclerosis in patients who began treatment immediately after their initial MS attack, compared to initiation of treatment more than two years after onset of symptoms. The patients studied were considered at risk of suffering additional MS attacks because of the presence of brain MRI scan abnormalities. The study, known as CHAMPIONS (controlled high risk Avonex multiple sclerosis prevention study in ongoing neurological surveillance), was designed to determine whether the effect of early treatment with Avonex in delaying relapses and reducing the accumulation of MS brain lesions could be sustained for up to five years. The data were presented at the European Committee for Treatment and Research in MS meeting in Milan, Italy. Also, Biogen said the study would be extended for an additional five years.

• Britannia Pharmaceuticals Ltd., of London, entered an agreement with Novartis Pharmaceuticals Ltd., a subsidiary of Novartis AG, of Basel, Switzerland, to accelerate the development of dihydroergotamine (DHE) nasal powder, a formulation of DHE under development at Britannia since 2001. Britannia will use Novartis data to reduce the time to launch for DHE nasal powder in the UK in exchange for undisclosed milestone payments and royalties on UK sales. In addition, Novartis will be granted the first opportunity to license DHE nasal powder in countries outside of the UK. More specific financial terms were not disclosed.

• Cardiome Pharma Corp., of Vancouver, British Columbia, said its heart failure drug candidate, oxypurinol, met the primary endpoint in a recently completed clinical trial. Results from the study confirmed preclinical and clinical studies showing the beneficial effects of oxypurinol on the endothelial dysfunction that often accompanies heart disease. Results from the EXOTIC study were presented at a satellite symposium during the Heart Failure Society of America's annual meeting. The primary endpoint of the study was reversal of acetylcholine-mediated coronary vasoconstriction after intravenous administration of oxypurinol. The study included 18 patients with coronary heart disease.

• Cell Genesys Inc., of South San Francisco, said Chairman and CEO Stephen Sherwin will open the Nasdaq market today, celebrating Cell Genesys' 10 years on the exchange. The company focuses on cancer products.

• Cellomics Inc., of Pittsburgh, reported the launch of the ArrayScan VTI HCS Reader, an automated, high-content screening (HCS) platform. The company also released three new BioApplication software modules for Cellomics' fully integrated HCS platform.

• ChemCodes Inc., of Research Triangle Park, N.C., said it successfully completed a drug discovery collaboration with the preclinical research and development group of F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd., of Basel, Switzerland. ChemCodes said the collaborative work allowed it to demonstrate its platform and medicinal chemistry capabilities in discovering new chemistries and synthetic routes for compounds required in lead generation. The partners said they would conduct a second collaboration as they continue to determine a specific therapeutic area, research plans and business arrangements. ChemCodes' platform uses components licensed from GlaxoSmithKline plc, of London.

• Corixa Corp., of Seattle, and GlaxoSmithKline plc, of London, said data published in the Sept. 1, 2003, issue of Blood showed that therapy with Bexxar (tositumomab and I-131 tositumomab) following chemotherapy produced a high rate of response in patients with advanced follicular non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The Phase II study, which assessed a two-part treatment consisting of CHOP chemotherapy (a combination chemotherapy regimen) followed by Bexxar, produced an overall response rate of 90 percent and a two-year overall survival rate of 97 percent.

• DanioLabs Ltd., of Cambridge, UK, entered a collaboration to use its inflammatory bowel disease model to screen compounds from a G protein-coupled receptor program belonging to Oxagen Ltd., of Abingdon, UK. The compounds resulted from Oxagen's work to screen against inflammatory bowel disease-associated target receptors identified in its GPCR program. DanioLabs' model uses zebrafish as a model for human disease. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• Depomed Inc., of Menlo Park, Calif., gained rights to a drug in development in its joint venture with Elan Corp. plc, of Dublin, Ireland, which at the same time withdrew its operational involvement in Depomed Development Ltd. As a result, Elan lost its right to exchange $12 million of Depomed's Series A preferred stock for an additional 30.1 percent equity interest in the venture, though Depomed will continue to own its 80.1 percent share and the remaining 19.9 percent will be held by an Elan subsidiary. Depomed acquired exclusive development and commercialization rights to Gabapentin GR, a new formulation of the seizure and pain drug gabapentin that uses its controlled-release gastric retention drug delivery system. Depomed will not pay up-front license fees, but will pay undisclosed milestone and royalty payments to the joint venture if Gabapentin GR is successfully commercialized. Separately, Depomed filed a $60 million shelf registration statement with the SEC to sell its common stock from time to time.

• Elusys Therapeutics Inc., of Pine Brook, N.J., received an additional $3.5 million from the U.S. Department of Defense to further develop its heteropolymer drug to remove anthrax toxin from the bloodstream. The company said the funding would allow it to complete final phases of its efficacy studies of the compound, ETI-205, and to scale up production in preparation for human safety studies. Elusys said previous government funds covered a significant portion of the preclinical development of the antibody drug, which is expected to remove the anthrax toxin from the bloodstream even after symptoms appear. Animal studies demonstrated that ETI-205 provides complete protection against a lethal anthrax spore challenge.

• Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Endo Pharmaceuticals Holdings Inc., of Chadds Ford, Pa., said the FDA accepted the new drug application for DepoMorphine (morphine sulfate sustained-release liposome injection), an analgesic for the management of moderate to severe post-operative pain. Endo's development partner, SkyePharma plc, of London, submitted the application July 18.

• Fluidigm Corp., of South San Francisco, said GlaxoSmithKline plc, of London, purchased its prototype Topaz AutoInspeX workstation and agreed to receive a supply of Fluidigm's disposable Topaz microprocessors. Fluidigm said GlaxoSmithKline has used the Topaz Crystallizer and its palm-sized microprocessors for screening of conditions that produce protein crystals, and now would use the complete Topaz system to optimize its crystallization operations as part of its drug discovery process. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• Genomics Collaborative Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., said it was chosen by the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research Inc., a research institute of Novartis AG, of Basel, Switzerland, to collaborate in a large-scale human genetics research program to validate drug targets using GCI's database of human biological samples. The institutes and GCI scientists will work together to access GCI's Global Repository, a library of human DNA, serum and tissue samples all linked to clinical and demographic data, to help prioritize and gauge the potential success of drug targets before entering clinical trials. The nonexclusive research collaboration is for an initial two-year term, with the option to extend the program for two more years, and will cover up to four therapeutic areas, beginning with Type II diabetes.

• Harvard Bioscience Inc., of Holliston, Mass., reported the acquisition, through its wholly owned Genomic Solutions subsidiary, of substantially all the assets of BioRobotics Ltd., a subsidiary of Apogent Technologies Inc., of Portsmouth, N.H. The purchase price for the BioRobotics assets of about $3.2 million is payable partly in cash and partly in the assumption of certain limited liabilities. BioRobotics designs, develops, manufactures and distributes life science instrumentation for DNA microarray manufacturing and colony picking.

• Ingenuity Systems, of Mountain View, Calif., said GlaxoSmithKline plc, of London, licensed part of its Knowledge Base technology to aid in internal development efforts of genome-scale computational solutions. The database includes biological networks created from millions of individually modeled relationships between proteins, genes, complexes, cells, tissues, drugs and diseases. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• ISTA Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Irvine, Calif., presented integrated data from two Phase III trials of Vitrase (ovine hyaluronidase) for the treatment of vitreous hemorrhage, a condition affecting the back of the eye. A presentation was made Sept. 20 at the annual meeting of the Retina Society in Chicago. The results were previously submitted to the FDA as part of a new drug application for vitreous hemorrhage. The company in August submitted a second NDA seeking approval for use of Vitrase as a spreading agent to facilitate the dispersion and absorption of other drugs. (See BioWorld Today, Aug. 6, 2003.)

• Kucera Pharmaceutical Co., of Winston-Salem, N.C., received a research award from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center Small Business Innovation Research Bridge Fund Program related to its anti-HIV agent, KPC-2. The company, a 2001 spin-off of Wake Forest University Health Sciences and the School of Pharmacy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said the funding would allow it to complete preclinical development of KPC-2, a compound for which it already received a Phase I SBIR grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a unit of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md.

• Micrologix Biotech Inc., of Vancouver, British Columbia, and Fujisawa Healthcare Inc., of Deerfield, Ill., agreed to extend the review period on their collaboration and license agreement to Jan. 22, to further evaluate the available options based on analysis of the MBI 226 Phase III results. Under the agreement from July 8, 2002, Fujisawa has a right of termination that provides for a 60-day period for termination of the agreement following executive summary of the MBI 226 Phase III trial results. Prior to this extension, Fujisawa had until Sept. 22 to make its decision. MBI 226 did not demonstrate statistical superiority to povidone iodine in preventing catheter-related bloodstream infections.

• Myriad Proteomics Inc., of Salt Lake City, changed its name to Prolexys Pharmaceuticals Inc. The name was chosen to more accurately reflect its corporate mission, it said. The company - co-founded by Hitachi Ltd., Friedli Corporate Finance, Oracle Corp. and Myriad Genetics Inc. - said it has made the conversion from a technology organization to a drug discovery company.

• Netezza Corp., of Framingham, Mass., unveiled its Netezza Performance Server data warehouse for bioinformatics. Integrated with Blast and incorporating defined genomics data types, the NPS system is designed to deliver increased functionality and performance for large and complex bioinformatics analyses.

• NPS Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Salt Lake City, presented interim results that suggest parathyroid hormone (PTH 1-84) might be more effective than the combination of PTH and alendronate, and alendronate alone, in promoting bone formation in post-menopausal osteoporotic women. The results came from a clinical study called PaTH (PTH/alendronate) presented at the 25th annual meeting of the American Society of Bone and Mineral Research in Minneapolis and published in the latest edition of The New England Journal of Medicine. The study lasted 12 months and involved 238 post-menopausal women with low hip or spine bone mineral density scores who had not been treated with alendronate.

• Proneuron Biotechnologies Inc., of Los Angeles, obtained approval to begin a Phase II trial of Copolymer-1 (Cop-1) in Huntington's disease. The object of the trial will be to assess the safety, the immunological response and relevant efficacy parameters following the treatment of HD patients with Cop-1. The study will be conducted in Israel and will initially include 20 to 40 patients between the ages of 18 and 70.

• Quantum Dot Corp., of Hayward, Calif., and SC Biosciences Corp., Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. and Matsushita Kotobuki Electronics, all of Tokyo, reported their first jointly developed product will be unveiled to drug discovery researchers this week at the Society for Biomolecular Screening annual meeting in Portland, Ore. The first product is a high-throughput optical scanner, with initial application in gene expression analysis. The product, called the Mosaic Scanner, is the first to be released under a collaboration between the companies reported on Aug. 6.

• Receptor BioLogix Inc., of San Francisco, licensed selected applications of its technology to Incyte Corp., of Palo Alto, Calif. Incyte, which will use the license for its small-molecule cancer program, will make an undisclosed up-front investment along with future milestone payments and royalties in return for access to technology outside of Receptor's core business involving Intron Fusion Proteins. The newly founded company is working to develop a recently discovered class of protein therapeutics to treat cancer, autoimmune, metabolic and other diseases. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• Sequenom Inc., of San Diego, reported the launch of the MassArray Compact system. The system analyzes DNA directly using mass spectrometry.

• Sigma-Aldrich Corp., of St. Louis, said a Sunday morning explosion at its facility in Miamisburg, Ohio, injured one employee and resulted in a precautionary evacuation of those living within one mile of the plant. A nitric oxide tank exploded as employees, local firefighters and a hazardous material team were checking a leak at the plant, which is used to produce stable isotopes and isotopically labeled compounds used in life science research, medical diagnostics and positron emission tomography imaging. The facility containing the tank was largely destroyed.

• Spectrum Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Irvine, Calif., and GPC Biotech AG, of Martinsried, Germany, said the FDA granted fast-track status to satraplatin as a second-line chemotherapy treatment for patients with hormone-refractory prostate cancer (HRPC). The companies are co-developing the drug. Satraplatin is a member of the platinum family of compounds and has completed the special protocol assessment process with the FDA and is expected to enter a Phase III study in HRPC "in the near future," the company said. Spectrum's stock (NASDAQ:SPPI) rose $2.26 Monday, or 46 percent, to close at $7.17.

• Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., of Jerusalem, reported data at the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis conference in Milan, Italy, demonstrating that antibodies to Copaxone (glatiramer acetate injection) do not interfere with its biological functions. Other data demonstrated that long-term Copaxone treatment significantly reduces relapse rates and slows accumulation of disability for people with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. More specifically, the findings demonstrated a reduction of sustained accumulated disability in patients who continued throughout the entire study follow-up period, which ranged from nine to 35 months.

• Thermo Electron Corp., of Franklin, Mass., and Qiagen NV, of Venlo, the Netherlands, entered an exclusive agreement to co-market and co-promote Thermo Electron's KingFisher instrumentation technology together with Qiagen's magnetic bead-based nucleic acid separation and purification technology for use in nucleic acid-based applications in research and molecular diagnostics.

• Titan Pharmaceuticals Inc., of South San Francisco, presented favorable results at the 25th annual meeting of the American Society For Bone and Mineral Research in Minneapolis, with oral gallium maltolate demonstrating the achievement of targeted, potentially therapeutic serum levels of gallium in patients with advanced Paget's disease. The trial evaluated the safety of gallium maltolate and gallium serum levels after oral administration of one of three doses, 200 mg, 400 mg or 600 mg, in 12 patients with advanced Paget's disease of bone or primary hyperparathyroidism. Results demonstrated serum gallium concentrations increased in a linear fashion with increasing doses.

• Vitra Bioscience Inc., formerly Virtual Arrays Inc., of Mountain View, Calif., introduced the CellCard System and CellPlex Assays.

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