• Altana AG, of Bad Homburg, Germany, and GPC Biotech AG, of Martinsried, Germany, reported progress in the five-and-a-half-year alliance to establish the U.S. Altana Research Institute, a functional genomics/proteomics facility in Boston. Achievements include the successful transfer of technologies, as well as the fulfillment of a research milestone in one of the collaborative drug discovery programs that are part of the ARI alliance. The completion of those three milestones triggers payments of $2.45 million to GPC Biotech.

• Biogen Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., entered a three-year technology subscription with Phase Forward Inc., of Waltham, Mass., for Phase Forward's InForm electronic data capture solution. Biogen will use the technology to expedite the collection and management of trial data. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• Biolipox AB, of Stockholm, Sweden, raised €21 million in a second round of financing. The round was led by funds advised by Apax Partners and included existing investors HealthCap and Sofinnova Partners. New investors were Credit Lyonnais Private Equity and Auriga Partners. Biolipox was founded in 2000. Its pipeline includes drugs targeting respiratory inflammatory diseases - particularly allergic rhinitis and asthma - and inflammatory pain.

• Bioxel Pharma Inc., of Sainte-Foy, Quebec, said it entered a collaboration with an undisclosed Canadian pharmaceutical company to produce a paclitaxel-derivative formulation to treat cancer and other diseases. Bioxel retains ownership of the taxane derivatives and the rights to produce them, while the partner retains ownership of the intellectual property and any patents resulting from the combination of their technologies. If a candidate is identified from the work, Bioxel would out-license the compound for further development. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• CeMines Inc., of Evergreen, Colo., established a research and development facility at the Cedar-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. The move allows the company to consolidate all its research and development activities under one roof, the company said. The company is developing "molecular fingerprinting" technology for early detection and treatment of cancer.

• Chiron Corp., of Emeryville, Calif., said it and the scientific committee for Silcaat, a Phase III study for recombinant human interleukin-2 (IL-2, aldesleukin) in patients with HIV, reached an agreement in principle to transfer the responsibility for the trial to the investigators. Chiron announced in October it would discontinue the trial. At the time, the company said that it would work with the scientific committee to maximize the value of the study and that it would explore a regulatory strategy in the U.S. and Europe. (See BioWorld Today, Oct. 25, 2002.)

• Compugen Ltd., of Tel Aviv, Israel, and Abbott Laboratories, of Abbott Park, Ill., reported an agreement for Abbott to use Compugen's technology for the accelerated identification of drug targets across multiple therapeutic areas. Abbott will license Compugen's LEADS computational biology platform. The companies will jointly perform an integrated analysis of human genomic data, creating a comprehensive database that represents human mRNA molecules. Abbott will use the results, as well as further data provided by Compugen's Gencarta database, to identify and prioritize drug targets for the development of pharmaceutical and diagnostic products.

• EntreMed Inc., of Rockville, Md., reported publication of preclinical data in the Jan. 15, 2003, issue of Cancer Research on how its small-molecule drug candidate Panzem inhibits the growth of tumor cells and blood vessel cells associated with disease. Data showed that Panzem (2-methoxyestradiol) kills tumor cells and their supporting blood vessel cells by turning on increased levels of a death receptor (Death Receptor 5, or DR5) that is located on the cell surface. This action then triggers apoptosis. DR5 also may serve as surrogate marker for assessing clinical responses to Panzem, which is in Phase I trials for breast cancer and Phase II trials for the blood cancer multiple myeloma. A Phase II trial for prostate cancer is complete.

• Genesis Bioventures Inc., of Surrey, British Columbia, signed an amendment to the binding letter of intent for the proposed merger with Innathera Inc., of New York. Genesis focuses on the development and marketing of diagnostics and therapeutics, while Innathera is focused on the acquisition, development and commercialization of cancer therapies. The transaction is now subject to the execution of a definitive agreement and related conditions. The completion date has been extended to Jan. 27. The merger was originally announced in December. (See BioWorld Today, Dec. 3, 2002.)

• Harvard Biosciences Inc., of Holliston, Mass., settled a dispute with Harvard University through a license agreement with the university that allows Harvard Biosciences to continue using the names Harvard Apparatus, Harvard Bioscience and various Harvard-related product names. Harvard Bioscience will continue to use the names but will be subject to certain stylistic restrictions, which primarily include avoiding the color crimson and fonts that are similar to those used by Harvard University.

• Hemispherx Biopharma Inc., of Philadelphia, filed to register 5 million shares of common stock. Use of proceeds from any eventual sale, the company said, would support the expansion of its Phase III chronic fatigue syndrome trials and Phase II HIV/AIDS trials. The company said any sale would be completed "in a manner that substantially adds to shareholder value."

• ID Biomedical Corp., of Vancouver, British Columbia, was awarded a subcontract from Dynport Vaccine Co. LLC, a joint venture between DynCorp., of Reston, Va., and Porton International Inc., of London, to develop a second-generation subunit plague vaccine. The subcontract provides ID Biomedical with about $6 million to clone, express and produce a subunit recombinant plague vaccine antigen. The majority of the project is expected to be concluded this year.

• Immunomedics Inc., of Morris Plains, N.J., reported publication in the January 2003 issue of The Journal of Nuclear Medicine of an improved method of linking yttrium-90 (Y-90) to its antibody, epratuzumab, in clinical trials for the therapy of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Different forms of chemical linkers, one called DOTA and two forms of DTPA, were compared. Results demonstrated that essentially 100 percent of the Y-90 remained on the DOTA-linked epratuzumab, whereas 10 percent to 15 percent of the Y-90 became unbound from either DTPA-linked antibody over the course of the experiments.

• Inhale Therapeutics Systems Inc., of San Carlos, Calif., changed its name to Nektar Therapeutics, reflecting a change in growth strategy. It also has changed its Nasdaq symbol to NKTR. The company plans to evolve from a technology provider to a company that applies its drug delivery technologies, knowledge and development capabilities to create products. Nektar established the Proprietary Products Group with an aim to create product opportunities for Nektar to develop into clinical testing. Nektar will increase the number of products it takes through Phase I testing and Phase II before offering products to its biopharmaceutical partners for commercialization, it said. Nektar also will continue to offer partners development capabilities, including product, clinical and regulatory knowledge that can be applied to partner-originated compounds.

• MDS Sciex, a division of MDS Inc., of Toronto, launched the first in a series of proteomics separation products called ProteoSpin. The new products are based on a technology developed and licensed by Norgen Biotek, of St.Catharine's, Ontario. Norgen Biotek granted MDS Sciex an exclusive license to commercialize and collaborate on research and development future products in the area of proteomics using silicon carbide.

• Millennium Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., initiated a Phase II trial of Velcade in patients with Stage IIIb or Stage IV non-small-cell lung cancer. The study will compare response rates of patients with previously treated NSCLC to treatment with Velcade alone or Velcade plus Taxotere. Velcade is being investigated in a Phase III study in patients with multiple myeloma and a range of Phase I and II trials in patients with hematologic and solid tumors. Velcade (bortezomib) for injection is designed to specifically block proteasomes.

• Neurion Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Los Angeles, signed a research agreement with Pfizer Inc., of New York, to develop experimentally based computational models of drug binding interactions with the HERG potassium ion channel. Neurion and Pfizer will use those models to aid in the development of new drugs designed to have a reduced risk of potentially dangerous cardiac side effects. The companies will apply Neurion's NP2 technology to study the mechanistic determinants of cardiovascular drug toxicity.

• Novacea Inc., of South San Francisco, said patient enrollment began in a Phase II trial of its lead product, DN-101, for the treatment of patients with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). The study will evaluate the effect of high-dose pulse administration DN-101 (calcitriol) on the anemia and red blood cell transfusion requirements for patients with MDS. Up to 46 patients with low-risk MDS who are red-blood-cell-transfusion dependent are expected to be enrolled in this study at 12 research centers in the U.S.

• Plexxikon Inc., of Berkeley, Calif., entered an agreement to incorporate into its drug discovery platform the Arthur technology belonging to Synthematix Inc., of Research Triangle Park, N.C. Specifically, Plexxikon gains access to Synthematix's Arthur family of products consisting of two major components: a database of synthetic organic reactions and experimental conditions combined with a search engine, and a suite of modules to enter, analogue, annotate and mine the database. Financial terms were not disclosed.

• Pro-Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Newton, Mass., completed a $3.9 million private placement of its common stock. The company said it would direct the funds toward a Phase I study to evaluate its product, Davanat, alone and in combination with 5-FU, to treat advanced solid tumors, as well as for preclinical development of Galactomycin. In preclinical studies, Davanat-enhanced 5-FU was shown to improve the drug's anticancer effectiveness, while reducing toxicity.

• SkyePharma plc, of London, licensed to Shire Pharmaceuticals plc, of Basingstoke, UK, exclusive rights to manufacture, distribute and sell Solaraze, a topical therapy for actinic keratosis, in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and certain other countries in the Pacific Rim. Shire will receive up to £2.2 million (US$3.5 million) comprising an undisclosed up-front payment and additional milestones contingent on the product's completion of a Phase III study in Australia and receiving regulatory approval in the licensed territories.

• Stressgen Biotechnologies Corp., of Vancouver, British Columbia, said the AIDS Malignancy Consortium sponsored by the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., initiated the first of several planned trials of HspE7, the company's immunotherapeutic, in patients with human papillomavirus-related diseases including cervical and anal dysplasia, as well as cervical cancer. The study is being performed under a clinical trials agreement between Stressgen and the NCI.

• Structural GenomiX Inc., of San Diego, and Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Ridgefield, Conn., formed a two-year agreement to use Structural GenomiX's structure-directed drug discovery technologies to support Boehringer's lead-optimization activities. Structural GenomiX's automated high-throughput protein structure determination platform will be used to discover optimized leads and then aid in the identification of drug candidates. Financial details were not disclosed.

• Xenova Group plc, of Slough, UK, reached an agreement with ImmuLogic Pharmaceutical Corp. Liquidating Trust under which Xenova will buy out all remaining ImmuLogic rights to future milestone and royalty payments relating to two of Xenova's development-stage vaccine programs, TA-CD and TA-NIC. ImmuLogic will receive $1 million from Xenova in return for ImmuLogic's rights to future payments relating to the two vaccine programs. Mutual releases from claims, proceedings and any other liabilities also were exchanged.

• YM Biosciences Inc., of Missassauga, Ontario, reported the completion of enrollment of patients in the Phase I/II open-label study testing TheraCIM h-R3 in head and neck cancer being conducted by its subsidiary, Cimym Inc. The trial was designed to study the safety and efficacy of TheraCIM h-R3, a humanized monoclonal antibody, when used in combination with radiation therapy for the treatment of unresectable locally advanced head and neck cancer. Analysis of data collected to date demonstrated a complete tumor response in more than 60 percent of subjects. Separately, YM BioSciences said it completed enrollment of patients in its safety and immunogenicity trial of Norelin, a cancer vaccine targeting the gonadotropin-releasing hormone for the treatment of hormone-dependent prostate cancer.