• Applied Genetics Technologies Corp., of Gainesville, Fla., said it was granted orphan drug status in the U.S. for its alpha-one antitrypsin deficiency treatment. The treatment uses adeno-associated virus technology to deliver the normal human gene to patients so they can produce the missing protein. The company said it is working on a Series B round of funding to finance clinical trials and scale up its production process.

• Arius Research Inc., of Toronto, entered a collaboration with the GI Research Unit and St. Michael's Hospital to study antibodies and targets from colorectal tumors donated by patients. The collaboration involves patients who are undergoing surgery for colon cancer and will be given the opportunity to donate some of their tumor tissues for research. Arius will use those tumor tissues to generate antibodies as a first step in looking for cancer drugs and targets. The antibodies will go through Arius' screening program to pick out those that can target, react with and kill cancer cells.

• AVI BioPharma Inc., of Portland, Ore., said results from a preclinical study of AVI's Neugene antisense drug, AVI-4126, showed it significantly reduced lung cancer growth in a mouse tumor model when given after chemotherapy. The study was published in the January 2003 issue of Anti-Cancer Drugs. The company also said it received a $250,000 grant from the National Cancer Institute, of Bethesda, Md., to target prostate cancer using Neugene drugs. The one-year grant is eligible for continued renewal for up to four years.

• Biopure Corp., of Cambridge, Mass., said it will resume shipping Oxyglobin [hemoglobin glutamer - 200 (bovine)] to U.S. veterinary hospitals and clinics in mid-February. Following discussions with the FDA, the company resolved its previously reported manufacturing and documentation issue and has lifted its voluntary hold on Oxyglobin inventory. Biopure has produced more than 20,000 units of Oxyglobin since its recently expanded manufacturing facilities reopened, which it said it will use to fill more than 11,000 units on backorder.

• BioTransplant Inc., of Medford, Mass., said the Catholic University of Louvain has agreed to suspend for 30 days its previous notice of termination of the sponsored research agreement so the parties can attempt to resolve the university's claim that BioTransplant breached the agreement. BioTransplant previously announced that UCL intended to terminate the agreement effective Feb. 1. BioTransplant and UCL entered the agreement in 1993, and BioTransplant received exclusive rights to develop and commercialize the BTI-322 rodent monoclonal antibody. BioTransplant sublicensed BTI-322 and its humanized analogue, MEDI-507, to MedImmune Inc.

• CeMines Inc., of Evergreen, Colo., was scheduled to present data Friday from studies it said lays a groundwork for new molecular fingerprinting diagnostics techniques. The findings were to be presented at the Oncogenomics 2003 conference in Phoenix. CeMines' studies identified tumor-specific forms of transcriptional regulators that can be used for sensitive and specific detection of a variety of tumors, the company said. The data suggest that high-level expression of tumor-specific splice variants of transcription factors results in altered expression of a variety of genes in cancer cells that contributes to the development of tumors.

• Cohesion Technologies Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif., said that at a special meeting of stockholders held Friday, a majority of issued and outstanding common shares of Cohesion were voted in favor of an all-stock merger with Angiotech Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Vancouver, British Columbia. Cohesion stockholders will receive about $4.05 in value of Angiotech common stock for each share of Cohesion. The company expects the merger to close quickly, following the filing of necessary documentation to finalize the transaction. The intended merger was valued at $42 million at the time when it was announced in late September. (See BioWorld Today, Oct. 1, 2002.)

• DeCode genetics Inc., of Reykjavik, Iceland, and Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., signed an agreement for DeCode to gather and analyze pharmacogenomic data as part of clinical trials its subsidiary, Encode, conducts on Vertex developmental compounds. The agreement covers a Phase IIa trial of Vertex's VX-148 treatment for psoriasis. Trial activities and pharmacogenomic analyses will be carried out by Encode. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• eXegenics Inc., of Dallas, reported that Nasdaq granted the company an additional 180-day extension, through July 21, to regain compliance with the minimum $1 bid listing requirement. During this period, it will be necessary for the company's stock to trade at or above $1 per share for a minimum of 10 consecutive trading days. As reported in October, the stock moved from the Nasdaq National Market to the Nasdaq SmallCap Market, where the company received a 90-day grace period, until Jan. 21, to regain compliance.

• GlycoDesign Inc., of Toronto, said it regained all rights to Core 2 inhibitors that came from its recently completed three-year collaboration with Seikagaku Corp., of Tokyo. The inhibitors are being developed as oral anti-inflammatory drugs. Under a new deal, GlycoDesign licensed to Seikagaku exclusive Japanese rights to GlycoDesign's Core 2 assay system for internal research and development purposes, and would receive royalties on and products resulting from that research.

• GPC Biotech AG, of Martinsried, Germany, introduced its protein interaction technology, LeadCode, and concurrently said Eli Lilly and Co., of Indianapolis, signed a collaboration in which GPC will use LeadCode to discover the mechanism of action of compounds supplied by Lilly. Lilly is developing the compounds in the metabolic disease area. Financial and other details were not disclosed.

• Hemispherx Biopharma Inc., of Philadelphia, said it presented data on the long-term, post-trial effects of Ampligen, its drug being developed for chronic fatigue syndrome, at the Sixth Annual American Association of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome conference in Chantilly, Va. Information presented included that the Phase III trial is ongoing at eight sites and Ampligen has been given orphan drug status by the FDA. Also, 80 percent of patients who completed the 24-week study continue with Ampligen treatment on a cost-recovery basis, the company said. The product is designed to stimulate the body's own immune defense.

• Hybridon Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., reported the publication of data showing that short CpG DNA immunomers containing two sequences, each with as few as five or six nucleotides joined via 3'-3' linkers, elicited a potent immunostimulatory effect. The report, published in the Jan. 24, 2003, issue of Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, reported that the immunomers did not require the hexameric sequence motif generally found essential for CpG DNA stimulation, and surprisingly act in both mouse and human cells without the need for a species-specific sequence. The short immunomers showed strong induction of various cytokines including IL-12 and interferon gamma.

• LION bioscience AG, of Heidelberg, Germany, launched its integration platform, LION DiscoveryCenter. The platform is designed to help speed drug discovery by enabling researchers to make better decisions faster by integrating cross-functional information from a variety of databases and applications. Bayer AG, of Leverkusen, Germany, will use the platform for parts of its PIx (Pharmacophore Informatics) cheminformatics project managed by LION.

• Medivir AB, of Huddinge, Sweden, appointed Lars Adlersson to the position of CEO and president beginning March 1. Adlersson has held several positions in Janssen Pharma and the Glaxo Group. During his time at Glaxo, he served as vice president and general manager in Sweden and Austria, and prior to that marketing director in several therapeutic areas. Most recently, Adlersson has been at Handelsbanken Securities, where he worked as a senior health care analyst since 2002.

• MindGenix Inc., of Albany, N.Y., expanded its collaboration with H. Lundbeck A/S, of Copenhagen, Denmark, to test compounds for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease in MindGenix's relevant model of the disease. The APP/PS1 transgenic mouse model used in the platform developed by MindGenix demonstrates behavioral abnormalities and other hallmark features of Alzheimer's neuropathology, MindGenix said. MindGenix is a specialized contract research organization.

• Northfield Laboratories Inc., of Evanston, Ill., said it submitted its response to questions and comments from the FDA regarding the proposed Phase III trial of PolyHeme in severely injured trauma patients before they reach a hospital. In November, Northfield received questions and comments from the FDA on the Phase III protocol. In August 2001, Northfield submitted a biologics license application for the product, and the agency said it required more information in November 2001. (See BioWorld Today, Aug. 29, 2001.)

• Paracelsian Inc., of Ithaca, N.Y., signed a license agreement assigning Dr. Chip Biotech Inc., of Taiwan, exclusive rights to manufacture, develop and sell Paracelsian's Ah-Immunoassay in China and Southeast Asia. Paracelsian will get license fees and royalties. In addition, the companies signed a letter of intent to establish within 90 days a joint venture company to market Ah-Immunoassay test kits and testing services in those areas.

• Simulations Plus Inc., of Lancaster, Calif., released version 3.3 of its flagship GastroPlus software for the simulation of drug absorption and pharmacokinetics.

• St. Jude Children's Research Hospital researchers in Memphis, Tenn., have discovered what they describe as a critical, early step in the growing vertebrate embryo that is required for the proper development of a major part of the brain. That step is orchestrated by the product of a single gene called Six3, which guides the formation of the embryonic part of the brain called the forebrain. The forebrain is destined to contain, among other structures, the eyes, olfactory center and cerebrum.

• Valentis Inc., of Burlingame, Calif., said its wholly owned subsidiary, PolyMASC Pharmaceuticals plc, received a favorable ruling from the Japanese Patent Office in regard to patent-invalidation proceedings brought by ALZA Corp., a unit of Johnson & Johnson, of New Brunswick, N.J. The proceeding was the final level of review within the Japanese Patent Office, Valentis said. PolyMASC has asserted patent infringement in both the U.S and Germany based on ALZA's manufacturing and selling of Doxil and Caelyx, PEGylated liposome products encapsulating doxorubicin. Separately, Valentis said its common stock began trading on The Nasdaq SmallCap Market, effective Jan. 31.

• Viragen Inc., of Plantation, Fla., and its majority-owned subsidiary, Viragen International Inc., reported the renewal and extension of an agreement with Laboratorios Pisa, a pharmaceutical company in Mexico. The new agreement, extended by 10 years, provides Laboratorios Pisa with the exclusive rights to distribute Multiferon in Mexico. Financial terms were not disclosed.