• Affitech AS, of Oslo, Norway, and NatImmune AS, of Copenhagen, Denmark, formed a partnership in colon cancer with a goal to develop antibody drug leads being generated by Affitech for therapy and in vivo diagnostics against a NatImmune target. NatImmune will provide Affitech with access to the target. Affitech will apply its antibody libraries and its screening technologies to generate a panel of human antibodies against the target. The companies will develop candidates on a shared-cost, shared-revenue basis. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• Agenix Ltd., of Brisbane, Australia, said its wholly owned subsidiary, AGEN Biomedical Ltd., will expand its distribution of animal health products in the U.S. and Europe and that the company is preparing to appoint new distributors in those two markets. AGEN said it will terminate its current agreement with Synbiotics Corp. and will wind down sales of products to Synbiotics over the next two months.

• Athelas SA, of Geneva, and MerLion Pharmaceuticals Pte. Ltd., of Singapore, entered a two-year drug discovery and preclinical research collaboration to identify drug candidates in the areas of anti-virulence anti-infectives. The collaboration will bring together MerLion's collection of natural product samples, high-throughput screening capabilities, natural product and medicinal chemistry expertise together with Athelas' platform DiVi technology. MerLion will identify and characterize lead candidates from its samples using Athelas assays. Athelas will then progress those compounds through initial preclinical development. The companies will share in the rights and development costs for lead optimization, clinical development and commercialization. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• Beckman Coulter Inc., of Fullerton, Calif., was scheduled to report on a new technology used in epitope discovery and development Wednesday at the third annual World Vaccine Congress in Montreal. The epitope mapping system, which builds on the company's expertise in cellular immune response analysis, offers the potential to advance epitope discovery for vaccine development in various disease states such as HIV, hepatitis and cancer, it said.

• Biovail Corp., of Toronto, entered into an agreement whereby Flamel Technologies SA, of Lyon, France, licensed to Biovail exclusive North American rights to Flamel's oral solid controlled-release formulation of acyclovir for the treatment of episodic and recurrent genital herpes infections. Biovail intends to manufacture the form of the herpes treatment using Flamel's controlled-release Micropump Technology. Biovail expects to start Phase III trials in the second half of 2003. Specific financial terms were not disclosed.

• Borean Pharma A/S, of Aarhus, Denmark, appointed Riku Rautsola president and CEO. Previously he worked in management and marketing at Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH, among other companies. Borean's technology includes a C-type lectin-related protein library.

• Cell Therapeutics Inc., of Seattle, presented data on a cancer target, LPAAT-beta, in the April issue of the proceedings of the 2003 annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research. The data suggest that the inhibition of LPAAT-beta may impede the growth of tumors on two fronts, by restricting the growth of supporting tissues such as blood vessels and by removing a co-factor essential to tumor cell growth and proliferation. In the proceedings, CTI highlighted research on signaling pathways that showed that inhibition of LPAAT-beta by genetic knockdown with RNAi or with specific inhibitors of the enzyme leads to tumor cell death through apoptosis.

• Cellectis SA, of Paris, entered an agreement with Limagrain Group, of Chappes, France, which includes an option for a nonexclusive worldwide license to use Cellectis' Meganuclease Recombination System technology. The technology is based on the meganuclease I-Scel, a restriction endonuclease, for the induction of homologous recombination and site-directed insertion or deletion of genes of interest. Limagrain is a seed business. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• CytoGenix Inc., of Houston, began a program of preclinical studies of CYGpssXE-59 DNA against herpes simplex types 1 and 2. The studies are being conducted at the Sealy Center for Vaccine Development of the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. It is CytoGenix's first product in the pipeline.

• Discovery Laboratories Inc., of Doylestown, Pa., reported that research at the University of Pennsylvania Department of Medicine, Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Division has shown that Discovery's humanized lung surfactant, including its lead product Surfaxin, exhibits significant anti-inflammatory properties in the lungs, including a significant reduction in protein leak and influx of inflammatory cells into the airways.

• DNAPrint genomics Inc., of Sarasota, Fla., said the board appointed Richard Gabriel president and CEO. Previously, Gabriel served a role in making Pharm-Eco a profitable business, DNAPrint said. In addition to forensics and consumer genomics, DNAPrint is focused on developing drug and treatment solutions targeted for specific segments of the patient population.

• Entomed SA, of Strasbourg, France, and Achillion Pharmaceuticals Inc., of New Haven, Conn., entered a collaboration to discover and develop antiviral drugs. The partnership will focus on the discovery of lead compounds for the treatment of a number of viral diseases. Achillion will screen Entomed's library, the Entomotheque, a collection of insect-derived molecules and analogues. Achillion offers medicinal chemistry and cell-based, molecular assays. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• Genta Inc., of Berkeley Heights, N.J., reported the publication of preclinical data that demonstrated significant activity for its lead anticancer drug, Genasense (oblimersen sodium), in nasopharyngeal carcinoma, which has been closely linked to infection with Epstein-Barr virus, known to have cancer-causing properties. The research was published in the proceedings of the 2003 annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research.

• Idenix Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., presented positive preclinical results on NM283, its hepatitis C virus drug candidate, at the 11th International Symposium on Viral Hepatitis and Liver Disease in Sydney, Australia. The product, a ribonucleoside analogue, appeared to be well tolerated and after one week of treatment reduced mean viral load by more than 90 percent in a primate model of human chronic HCV infection. Idenix also presented 24-week data from an ongoing Phase IIb trial of telbivudine for the treatment of hepatitis B virus infection that demonstrated its safety and antiviral efficacy. Idenix has advanced NM283 to Phase I/II development and initiated a Phase III trial of telbivudine. In March, Idenix signed on with Novartis AG, of Basel, Switzerland, in a potential $862 million deal centered on Idenix's viral drug programs. (See BioWorld Today, March 27, 2003.)

• IDM Immuno-Designed Molecules, of Paris, acquired certain assets from Jenner Biotherapies, of Walworth, Wis. The assets include certain rights that Jenner acquired from Eli Lilly and Co., of Indianapolis, concerning the recombinant KSA antigen, better known as EP-CAM. That antigen is expressed in a number of cancers. It will be developed initially by IDM in association with Dendritophages (IDM dendritic cells) for the treatment of prostate cancer. IDM also acquired from Jenner other antigens in liposomal form, in addition to the rights to use PSA antigen in the treatment of prostate cancer. IDM also acquired the rights for immunopotentiators that Jenner obtained from Novartis AG, of Basel, Switzerland.

• ImClone Systems Inc., of New York, said its fourth-quarter and 2002 financial results will be delayed beyond April 15. The additional delay is due to the company's inability to finalize its audited financial statements pending completion of an ongoing internal review. On March 31, ImClone said that it was reviewing options and warrants to determine the extent of withholding tax liabilities associated with the exercise of those warrants and options that were held by current and former officers, directors and employees. The company determined that it has incurred tax liabilities as a result of not having withheld taxes on the exercise of certain options as well as warrants issued prior to 1995. In addition, the company failed to comply with tax reporting requirements. The audit committee of the board is reviewing those events while the SEC has requested documents and information related to the matter. ImClone said it believes the total amount to be reflected on its balance sheet relating to those matters could be up to about $60 million.

• Immunomedics Inc., of Morris Plains, N.J., said CIS Bio International, a wholly owned French subsidiary of Schering SA, entered a settlement agreement on issues arising from past sales of Scintimun CEA in relation to Immunomedics' carcinoembryonic antigen patents. The patents cover antibodies that specifically recognize CEA, one of the most widely used markers for colorectal and other cancers. Under the settlement agreement, CIS Bio agreed to pay an undisclosed sum for sales of Scintimun CEA.

• Ligand Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, said that the combination of its approved cancer drug Targretin (bexarotene) with Taxol (paclitaxel) prevented and overcame acquired resistance to Taxol in human breast cancer cells and two rodent breast cancer models, according to an abstract published in the proceedings of the 2003 annual meeting of the American Association of Cancer Research.

• Meridian Bioscience Inc., of Cincinnati, signed its first manufacturing agreement for its cGMP life sciences production facility located at Viral Antigens Inc., of Memphis, Tenn., a wholly owned subsidiary. Viral Antigenics will optimize manufacturing processes and produce a specific insect cell-derived recombinant protein for its contract partner. Also announced was the launch of Meridian Life Science, a unit designed to combine the company's technological capabilities channels to enable the research, development and manufacture of biopharmaceuticals and clinical diagnostics. Richard Eberly was named general manager of the unit.

• NaPro BioTherapeutics Inc., of Boulder, Colo., sold its technical and analytical services group to privately held ChromaDex Inc., of Santa Ana, Calif., a supplier of phytochemical reference standards for the nutraceutical, dietary supplement and functional food industries. About 20 NaPro researchers will move to ChromaDex in the transaction along with certain physical and real estate assets in Boulder. NaPro will become a significant shareholder of ChromaDex and will have a preferential business relationship with the company. Other terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

• NPS Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Salt Lake City, and Enzon Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Bridgewater, N.J., said the required waiting period for their proposed merger has expired. The requirements of the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act have now been satisfied and the companies expect to close the merger after approval by shareholders. The merger, valued at $1.6 billion at the time, was announced in February. (See BioWorld Today, Feb. 21, 2003.)

• Paradigm Genetics Inc., of Research Triangle Park, N.C., said it received notification from Nasdaq granting the company an extension until July 3 to re-establish compliance with the minimum $1 closing bid price. The company received a notice in January saying it failed to comply with the minimum bid price. Paradigm uses a systems biology approach to understand gene function in the context of biological pathways.

• SciClone Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Mateo, Calif., reported the results of a study showing a 71 percent long-term sustained response rate for hepatitis B patients. The results were achieved after one year of combination therapy with Zadaxin and interferon alpha. The sustained response rate compares favorably to 20 percent of patients using interferon alpha in combination with lamivudine and 10 percent of patients using interferon alpha alone, the company said. In the study, 74 percent (20/27) of patients receiving 26 weeks of Zadaxin in combination with interferon followed by 26 weeks of interferon monotherapy showed a sustained response at six months post-treatment. Also, 71 percent (19/27) of those patients showed a sustained response at 18 months post-treatment.

• Scil Proteins GmbH, of Halle, Germany, expanded its activities to include the production of recombinant proteins and industrial process development, the company said, using four fermenters from B. Braun Biotech International GmbH, of Martinsried, Germany. The fermenters are equipped with a multifunctional control system and additional online measuring techniques, allowing cultivation of bacteria such as Escherichia coli up to a scale of 100.

• Spectrum Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Irvine, Calif., received a Nasdaq staff determination letter indicating it is not in compliance with the stockholder's equity requirement and therefore subject to delisting. Spectrum has asked for a hearing before a Nasdaq Listing Qualifications Panel. Spectrum focuses on developing in-licensed drugs for the treatment and care of cancer patients.

• Telik Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif., reported a series of preclinical studies on TLK286, currently in a Phase III registration trial for ovarian cancer, and in clinical trials in non-small-cell lung, breast and colorectal cancer. The data showed that TLK286-induced activation of the stress-response apoptotic signaling pathway; enhanced antitumor activity of TLK286 in combination with oxaliplatin, carboplatin, doxorubicin, paclitaxel and docetaxel in human colorectal, ovarian, non-small-cell lung and breast cancer cell lines; and sensitization of human cancer cell lines to paclitaxel following prolonged treatment with TLK286. The studies were published in the proceedings of the 2003 annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research.

• V.I. Technologies Inc., of Watertown, Mass., said it completed recruitment of trial study sites for its chronic transfusion Phase III study of the Inactine pathogen-reduction red blood cell system. The trial is expected to enroll 70 patients. Half of them will receive Inactine-treated red blood cells, the other half FDA-licensed red cells for a defined number of transfusions.