• Accelrys Inc., of San Diego; IBM Corp., of Armonk, N.Y.; and United Devices Inc., of Austin, Texas, reported a project supporting a global research effort focused on the development of new drugs to combat the smallpox virus post infection. The project will be powered through a computing grid that will be designed to enable computer owners worldwide to contribute idle computing resources with the goal of developing a collection of potential anti-smallpox drugs. Results from the Smallpox Research Grid Project will be delivered to the U.S. Department of Defense's Office of the Secretary of Defense.

• Amersham Biosciences, of Piscataway, N.J., and Thermo Electron Corp., of Waltham, Mass., said they would jointly market and sell mass spectrometry-based proteomics solutions designed to help protein scientists in their life sciences research. Initially, the companies will co-market Amersham Biosciences' Ettan Maldi-ToF Pro mass spectrometer and Thermo Electron's Finnigan line of ion trap mass spectrometry systems, including the ProteomeXTM, a proteomics workstation.

• Enanta Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Watertown, Mass., said results from two of its research programs were published in the most recent editions, Journal of Medicinal Chemistry and Organic Letters. The papers described the company's chemistry approaches to the development of Cyclosporin A analogues and macrolide antibiotics. A third paper, which also was published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, describes the successful application of the company's Peptide Morphing technology, licensed from Harvard University, to the synthesis of small-molecule agonists of the mu-opioid receptor.

• EntreMed Inc., of Rockville, Md., named Michael Tarnow chairman. During a 22-year career at Merck & Co. Inc., he served in a variety of positions including heading corporate development, president and CEO of Merck Frosst Canada and executive vice president of Merck-Medco. EntreMed is developing therapeutics designed to inhibit abnormal blood vessel growth.

• Galen Holdings plc, of Craigavon, Northern Ireland, said it received an approvable letter from the FDA for its Ovcon product, an oral contraceptive. Items in the FDA's letter stipulate that certain issues dealing with the manufacturing facility be resolved, as well as a final agreement with the agency on product labeling and expiration dating.

• Genicon Sciences Corp., of San Diego, launched its second Resonance Light Scattering Technology product - an RLS-based Two-Color Nucleic Acid Microarray Toolkit for gene expression analysis. Genicon Sciences light scattering technology is a reproducible, non-fluorescent signal generation and detection technology based on nanometer-sized metal colloidal particles that can be used as biological labels in a variety of analytical bioassays, the company said.

• Illumina Inc., of San Diego, introduced RefSet Oligos for the Human Genome, a whole-genome oligo reference set designed and optimized for spotted gene expression microarrays. The new oligo set was developed in collaboration with academic researchers to establish criteria for gene selection and probe design, and to conduct sensitivity and target specificity performance testing of the product. Sequence information for the new set will be fully disclosed and freely available. The RefSet human genome product contains 22,740 70-mer oligonucleotide probes targeting 20,726 characterized genes detailed in the National Center for Biotechnology Information Human Reference Sequence database.

• Lorus Therapeutics Inc., of Toronto, expanded its ongoing clinical trial of its lead antisense drug, GTI-2040, in renal cell carcinoma to five major oncology centers in the U.S. GTI-2040 is being studied in combination with capecitabine (F. Hoffman-La Roche Ltd.'s Xeloda) for the treatment of advanced renal cell carcinoma in patients who have failed previous chemotherapies. Capecitabine is an oral anticancer treatment.

• Millennium Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., said it submitted a marketing authorization application to the European Agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal Products for Velcade (bortezomib) as a treatment for relapsed and refractory multiple myeloma. The company filed its new drug application in the U.S. near the end of January. Velcade is designed to be a proteasome inhibitor, which can lead to the disruption of the cell cycle progression, the company said. (See BioWorld Today, Jan. 23, 2003.)

• Neurome Inc., of La Jolla, Calif., said a paper was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Vol. 100, No. 3) describing the determination of regional brain changes in the PDAPP mouse model of Alzheimer's disease through the use of high-resolution magnetic resonance microscopy (MRM). The company said it is the first example of applying quantitative 3-dimensional MRM to detect brain volume changes over time in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease. Neurome develops gene expression databases and uses them to research gene targets for enhancement of brain function and treatment of brain-related disease.

• NicOx SA, of Sophia Antipolis, France, said that an investigational new drug application was accepted by the FDA for clinical testing of NCX 1000, its nitric oxide-donating derivative of ursodeoxycholic acid. The IND approval allows the start of Phase I studies in the U.S. and Europe for the treatment of portal hypertension, a late-stage chronic liver disease. NCX 1000 is being developed with Axcan Pharma Inc., of Mont Saint-Hilaire, Quebec. The IND approval resulted in a payment of $2 million to NicOx by Axcan.

• Ortec International Inc., of New York, said results from a preliminary review of the first group of patients to complete the 12-week treatment phase of its pivotal venous ulcer trial showed that at 12 weeks, 64 percent (16 of 25) of OrCel-treated patients achieved 100 percent wound closure, compared to 39.1 percent (nine of 23) for standard of care. A differential in healing of OrCel over standard of care was apparent after the first week and was maintained throughout the 12-week period. The OrCel group's average initial wound area was 24 percent larger than the standard of care. OrCel is composed of a collagen sponge seeded with allogeneic epidermal and dermal cells.

• Sunesis Pharmaceuticals Inc., of South San Francisco, reported it has a drug discovery technology for the identification of enzyme inhibitor molecules. The research program is directed at caspases, a group of proteases involved in the modulation of major apoptotic and inflammatory diseases. The results of the research are available in an advance online publication of Nature Biotechnology.

• V.I. Technologies Inc., of Watertown, Mass., said it is actively transfusing patients in the two Phase III studies of the Inactine Pathogen Reduction System for red blood cells. One study involves cardiac surgical patients requiring acute transfusion support, which is expected to enroll 200 patients, and a second study is in patients requiring chronic transfusion support, which is expected to enroll 70 patients.

• ViroLogic Inc., of South San Francisco, said its stockholders ratified its previously reported Series C convertible preferred stock private placement. The ratification will permit the conversion of the existing Series C convertible secured promissory notes into Series C convertible preferred stock. The company raised about $7 million from the private placement, which closed Nov. 19.