• Aastrom Biosciences Inc., of Ann Arbor, Mich., said its wholly owned subsidiary, Zellera AG, entered an agreement with Mathys Medical Ltd., of Bettlach, Switzerland, to begin a trial using Aastrom's Tissue Repair Cells with Mathys' commercial synthetic bone graft matrix for bone graft applications. The trial, which is expected to accrue five to 10 patients with serious tibia fractures, will be conducted at the Bergmannsheil University Clinic in Bochum, Germany.

• Acacia Research Corp., of Newport Beach, Calif., said CombiMatrix designed and fabricated a microarray based on the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) coronavirus genome published earlier this week. Acacia, which said the first microarrays were fabricated within 48 hours of publication of the genome, said the technology would help confirm the link between the coronavirus and SARS as well as assist in the development of screening tests for the virus and medicines to treat the syndrome.

• Achillion Pharmaceuticals Inc., of New Haven, Conn., and Phytobiotech Inc., of Laval, Quebec, entered a collaboration to discover drugs that address infectious disease targets. Phytobiotech will supply Achillion with purified, plant-derived small molecules called phytochemicals, which Achillion will screen through its infectious disease target assays. The companies will jointly develop any resulting drug candidates. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• Aclara BioSciences Inc., of Mountain View, Calif., entered a partnership to identify and characterize clinical biomarkers for cancer with the University of Southern California's Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and Hospital in Los Angeles. Initially, they will apply Aclara's multiplexed eTag Assay System to discover breast cancer biomarkers, which could be used to correlate disease type and progression and eventually improve treatment. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• Applied Genetics Inc. Dermatics, of Freeport, N.Y., said it regained all rights to T4N5 Liposome Lotion in connection with the termination of the Dimericine Development Corp. joint venture with Elan Corp. plc, of Dublin, Ireland. The conclusion of Elan's participation in the joint venture is part of Elan's continuing restructuring efforts. Elan sold its portion of the partnership, but remains a shareholder of Applied Genetics Inc. Dermatics.

• Cellectis SA, of Paris, granted to Nucleis SA, of Lyon, France, a nonexclusive license to a family of patents relating to a process for the insertion of a gene into the receiver genome by homologous recombination in mice. Nucleis gained the right to use Cellectis' technologies to engineer mice cell lines and generate mice as animal models. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• Cellomics Inc., of Pittsburgh, released the Extended Neurite Outgrowth BioApplication for its ArrayScan High Content Screening Reader. Cellomics said the product increases the level of detail and information available in screening for neurological therapeutics.

• Celltech Group plc, of Slough, UK, appointed Goran Ando CEO. Ando, who most recently was the president of research and development at Pharmacia Corp., of Peapack, N.J., succeeds Peter Fellner, who was Celltech's CEO since 1990 and will take up the position of chairman.

• CeNeS Pharmaceuticals plc, of Cambridge, UK, said it received and accepted a more than £9 million (US$14.2 million) cash offer for three of its four pharmaceutical products from a subsidiary of Waymade Healthcare plc, of Basildon, UK. The three pharmaceutical products, Diconal, Cyclimorph and Valoid, were acquired from GlaxoWellcome in September 2000 and are mainly sold to hospitals to treat post-operative pain and/or nausea and vomiting. CeNeS said it would use the funds for Phase III trials of another post-operative pain product, M6G, later this year, and also enable further Phase II studies of CNS 5161 for neuropathic pain. The sale remains subject to shareholder approval.

• Chiron Corp., of Emeryville, Calif., began a Phase III trial of Menjugate, its conjugated vaccine for the prevention of meningococcal C disease. The study, being conducted in conjunction with the Northern California Kaiser Permanente Vaccines Research Center, is designed to expand the vaccine's safety database for a U.S. population relative to the safety profile of the current U.S.-licensed meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine, Menomune (A, C, Y, W-135). Chiron reported initial details of the registration trial in late February. (See BioWorld Today, Feb. 28, 2003.)

• Columbia Laboratories Inc., of Livingston, N.J., said William Bologna resigned as chief science officer and would step down as chairman at its annual shareholders meeting May 15. Columbia's board plans to select a new chairman at its organizational meeting following the election of the full board by the shareholders. Bologna, one of Columbia's founders, will continue to serve as a consultant.

• Elite Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Northvale, N.J., said the controlled-release allergy product developed for an undisclosed U.S. pharmaceutical company completed a Phase I bioavailability study. Data demonstrated that the once-a-day formulation is bioequivalent to a more frequently dosed, marketed pharmaceutical product. Elite said it has received up-front fees for the first phases of development and is entitled to receive fees in advance for each subsequent phase. Also, if the FDA approves the product, Elite retains the right to manufacture commercial batches and would receive royalties for the 15-year term of the agreement.

• Inex Pharmaceuticals Corp., of Vancouver, British Columbia, said GlaxoSmithKline plc, of London, filed with the FDA an investigational new drug application to begin trials evaluating its anticancer drug, topotecan, encapsulated in Inex's drug delivery technology called Transmembrane Carrier System. Inex earned a $1.5 million milestone payment as a result and has received a total of $4.5 million in up-front and milestone payments since the partnership began in late 2001. If marketed, Inex would receive royalties.

• Ingenium Pharmaceuticals AG, of Munich, Germany, and the Molecular Genetics Laboratory of the University Eye Hospital in Tuebingen, Germany, entered a collaboration in which Ingenium will use its INGENOtyping technology platform to develop animal models with defined gene alterations. The collaboration is focused on genes relating to eye diseases. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• Introgen Therapeutics Inc., of Austin, Texas, said preclinical results were published suggesting INGN 241, an mda-7 therapeutic, can be combined with radiation therapy and shows promise as a treatment for lung cancer. INGN 241 is being evaluated in Phase II testing for solid tumors. The study results were published in the 2003 proceedings of the American Association for Cancer Research. The meeting was canceled due to the SARS outbreak.

• Intronn Inc., of Gaithersburg, Md., entered a collaboration to allow ProBioGen AG, of Berlin, to use Intronn's Spliceosome Mediated RNA Trans-splicing (SMaRT) technology to enhance its internal research programs. SMaRT is designed to reprogram genes at the level of premessenger RNA through the use of Intronn's pre-trans-splicing molecules. ProBioGen plans to use the technology to improve its cell line development program.

• LION bioscience AG, of Heidelberg, Germany, released the latest version of its open integration platform, LION DiscoveryCenter 3.2, designed with enhanced chemistry functionality, the company said.

• Lorus Therapeutics Inc., of Toronto, said a pivotal Phase III trial of its lead immunotherapeutic drug, Virulizin, for advanced pancreatic cancer is being expanded to include about 50 sites in North America and Latin America. The 10 additional oncology centers in Canada and Mexico also will examine the drug as a first-line treatment in combination with gemcitabine, the only agent approved for advanced pancreatic cancer. The trial began about a year and a half ago. (See BioWorld Today, Nov. 21, 2001.)

• Maxim Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, said positive preclinical data on its apoptosis drug candidates were published in the proceedings of the American Association for Cancer Research. Among the results published were a series of preclinical studies in which MX2167 and MX126374 demonstrated antitumor activity in multiple mouse and rat models in breast, colorectal and prostate cancer. The data originally were scheduled for presentation at last week's American Association for Cancer Research meeting, which was canceled due to an outbreak of SARS.

• Medarex Inc., of Princeton, N.J., entered a partnership to develop fully human therapeutic antibodies with Pfizer Inc., of New York. Medarex, which said it would use its UltiMAb Human Antibody Development System to generate antibodies to disease targets, could receive license fees and milestone payments as well as royalties. More specific financial terms were not disclosed.

• Molecular Probes Inc., of Eugene, Ore., acquired Interfacial Dynamics Corp., of Portland, Ore., which manufactures surfactant-free polymer microspheres used in bead-based assay systems. Molecular Probes, which produces fluorescence-based detection solutions, said the acquisition gives it the ability to design and manufacture latex microspheres for its own products and to offer a full line of microspheres. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• NeoGenomics Inc., of Naples, Fla., entered an agreement to sell about 75 percent of its outstanding common shares to Medical Venture Partners LLC, also of Naples, which will make available up to $1.5 million of debt financing through a revolving credit. NeoGenomics will be able to borrow up to 80 percent of its accounts receivable that are less than 90 days old; 50 percent of its net property, plant and equipment balance; and up to $500,000 on an unsecured basis. The debt financing and a substantial portion of the equity investment are being made through a fund controlled by Medical Venture Partners, which will have the right to appoint up to four of seven directors at NeoGenomics.

• NeoPharm Inc., of Lake Forest, Ill., reported preclinical data for LEP-ETU, its NeoLipid liposomal formulation of paclitaxel, showing that a 25-mg/kg dose of the drug enhanced anticancer effects against several mice tumor models, including human ovarian, lung, breast, prostate and murine melanoma. Also, LEP-ETU demonstrated an enhanced therapeutic effect in both human and murine tumor models and no toxicity was observed up to the 50-mg/kg dose in human lung and prostate tumor models. The data were scheduled for presentation at the American Association of Cancer Research meeting, which was canceled due to an outbreak of SARS.

• Oxford BioMedica plc, of Oxford, UK, said at its annual shareholders meeting that it plans to begin later this year a European Phase II trial of TroVax in colorectal cancer and a U.S. Phase I/II trial in renal cancer patients. Oxford said it would meet with the FDA to discuss its investigational new drug application next month. Also, the company said it plans to restructure its research and development operations to focus on its clinical and advanced preclinical products, streamlining such operations by £3.5 million (US$5.5 million) per year. As of Dec. 31, Oxford reported a cash position of £21 million.

• Pfizer Inc., of New York, and Pharmacia Corp., of Peapack, N.J., combined operations. Pfizer will have more than 400 projects in its discovery pipeline. The merger was announced in July. The stock merger was valued at $60 billion at the time. (See BioWorld Today, July 16, 2002.)

• Praecis Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Waltham, Mass., submitted an investigational new drug application to begin a Phase I trial of PPI-2458 for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The trial would evaluate the product, which is based on the fumagillin class of compounds, in patients who are no longer deriving benefits from other therapies. If all goes well with the submission, Praecis expects to start the trial in the second half of this year.

The Progeria Research Foundation in Boston, along with the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., said the April 16, 2003, issue of Nature published the discovery of a gene that causes Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria syndrome. Those afflicted with the rare and fatal genetic condition die at an average age of 13 from complications of cardiovascular disease or arteriosclerosis, leading researchers to believe that their discovery might play a role in developing treatments for Progeria syndrome sufferers, as well as those with heart disease. Findings showed that it is not an inherited condition but instead caused by mutations to the Lamin A gene.

• Quark Biotech Inc., of Cleveland, said the Achilles' Heel Method was published in the March 2003 issue of Oncogene. The Achilles' Heel Method is designed to facilitate the direct, high-throughput identification of genes mediating specific cellular functions. Quark holds the patent to the method.

• SIGA Technologies Inc., of New York, reported positive results from research in developing a safer smallpox vaccine, constructing recombinant bacteria expressing individual poxvirus proteins believed to be associated with a protective response. When inoculated into mice, the recombinants induced a systematic and mucosal response directed against the poxvirus proteins, SIGA said.

• Tm Bioscience Corp., of Toronto, said it would provide early access to its precommercial genetic tests to ARUP Laboratories in Salt Lake City; the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.; and Specialty Laboratories in Santa Monica, Calif. They will assess the tests in the clinical lab environment and provide feedback to Tm to support the company's commercialization plans.