20/20 GeneSystems Inc., of Rockville, Md., entered a technology access agreement with Novartis AG, of Basel, Switzerland. Novartis will provide funding and tissue samples while gaining access to 20/20's Protein Function Identification Layered Membranes to identify protein expression and activation patterns in tumor samples. The goal will be to identify protein profiles that can be used to help identify tumor subtypes.
Abbott Laboratories, of Abbott Park, Ill., reported increases in both sales and earnings for the third quarter ended Sept. 30, but at the same time reported a restructuring plan that includes a reduction of about 2,000 employees, 3 percent of its work force. Moving forward, Abbott began a study to make its investigational medication, D2E7 (adalimumab), available to rheumatoid arthritis patients in need of additional treatment options. In the U.S., the program is called the Access to Therapy in RA study and it allows patients with moderately to severely active RA who have failed treatment with one or more traditional disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs to receive D2E7. Similar programs have begun in Europe.
BioMimetic Pharmaceuticals Inc., VDDI Pharmaceuticals Inc. and the Vanderbilt University Medical Center were named the first three tenants of the Cool Springs Life Sciences Center, on which construction began Wednesday. The $74 million biomedical research facility in Franklin, Tenn., will consist of three buildings totaling about 134,000 square feet.
Biomira Inc., of Edmonton, Alberta, completed enrollment in its Phase II pilot study of Theratope vaccine for metastatic colorectal cancer. The 20-patient study began in February. Data from the trial, designed to evaluate the vaccine's ability to induce an immune response in patients when given in combination with first-line chemotherapy, are expected to be analyzed and available in the middle of 2003.
Chimerix Inc., of San Diego, appointed George Painter president and CEO. Most recently, he was the executive vice president of research and development at Triangle Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Durham, N.C. Chimerix is developing orally available, targeted medicines from bioactive molecules.
Cortex Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Irvine, Calif., expanded its research collaboration with Les Laboratoires Servier, of Paris, to include the identification and development of Ampakine compounds that may be used to treat anxiety disorders. Cortex will receive $4 million of research funding in eight payments of $500,000 each. The first payment will be made this month. Cortex also will be eligible to receive milestone payments based on successful clinical and commercial development, plus royalties. Cortex will provide Servier with an exclusive license for anxiety disorders in its territory, primarily Europe, Africa and Asia. Cortex retains Ampakine rights for anxiety disorders, mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative disorders in North America, and Latin and South America, with the exception of Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela, as well as worldwide rights for ADHD, autism, post-stroke, traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury.
Cyclis Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Norwood, Mass., licensed exclusive worldwide rights to technology from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, both in Boston. Cyclis said the licensed technology expands its Activated Checkpoint Therapy platform, an approach to cancer treatment based on the restoration and activation of cellular checkpoints. Financial terms were not disclosed.
DOV Pharmaceutical Inc., of Hackensack, N.J., adopted a shareholders rights plan under which it declared a dividend distribution of one preferred stock purchase right for each outstanding share of common stock and 1.62 preferred stock purchase rights for each outstanding share of Series B preferred stock to shareholders of record as of Oct. 9. The rights generally become exercisable if a person acquires or tenders an offer to acquire 15 percent or more of DOV's common stock.
Endovasc Ltd. Inc., of Montgomery, Texas, entered a three-year license agreement containing automatic renewals with NOF Corp., of Tokyo. NOF will represent Endovasc in Japan, Taiwan, Korea, China, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and India to choose pharmaceutical distributors for Endovasc's Liprostin drug. The parties also will collaborate on research and development by using NOF's lipid drug delivery systems to develop new products. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Evogene Ltd., a subsidiary of Compugen Ltd., of Rehovot, Israel, entered an agreement to jointly develop a platform for genetic engineering and remodeling of plant cells for the improved production of therapeutic recombinant proteins with Metabogal Ltd., of Kiryat Shmona, Israel. Evogene will develop and license specific products and knowledge related to its EvoMoters promoters library to Metabogal. The promoters will be used to amplify the expression rate and yields of recombinant therapeutic proteins using Metabogal's cell culture platforms. The parties also said they would collaborate to develop and introduce DNA regulatory elements. Financial terms were not disclosed.
FDA director nominee Mark McClellan was approved in a voice vote Wednesday by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. McClellan must receive a major vote of approval from the Senate before being confirmed. McClellan, 39, currently serves as a member of President Bush's Council on Economic Advisors. He also serves as a senior policy director for health care and related economic issues for the White House. Before joining the Bush staff, McClellan was an associate professor of economics at Stanford University, associate professor of medicine at Stanford Medical School, a practicing internist, and director of the Program on Health Outcomes Research at the school. (See BioWorld Today, Oct. 8, 2002, and Sept. 26, 2002.)
GlycoFi Inc., of Lebanon, N.H., was awarded a $2 million grant through the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The grant will fund a three-year project that has a goal of enabling high-capacity production of biological drugs using GlycoFi's yeast strains. GlycoFi aims to produce therapeutic proteins that are safe and effective in human yields, exceeding mammalian cell culture technology.
Immune Response Corp., of Carlsbad, Calif., declared a 1-for-4 reverse stock split of issued and outstanding shares of common stock effective Oct. 9. The reverse split was authorized at a stockholder meeting in June. But in July, the company submitted to Nasdaq an application to move its stock listing from the Nasdaq National to the Nasdaq SmallCap Market in order to extend the deadline by which its stock price was required to be above $1 for 10 straight trading days. The application was approved, and its common stock moved to the Nasdaq SmallCap Market effective Sept. 9, but the share price remains below the $1 minimum threshold.
InforMax Inc., of Bethesda, Md., introduced Vector PathBlazer, a desktop application for the integration of biological pathway and protein-protein interaction data. InforMax said it allows researchers to combine their own data on pathways, reactions and protein-protein interactions with data from curated public, as well as private, sources into a central integrated dataset.
Interleukin Genetics Inc., of Waltham, Mass., received a letter from Nasdaq stating that it has not met the $1 minimum bid price and the $2.5 million stockholders' equity requirements for continued listing of its common stock on the Nasdaq SmallCap Market. Interleukin requested an appellate hearing, expected to take place in the next 30 to 60 days, during which its common stock will continue to trade on the SmallCap Market.
Karo Bio AB, of Huddinge, Sweden, and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., of New York, prolonged for an additional six months a joint drug discovery collaboration. The companies have been collaborating on an obesity treatment since 1997. The first compound in the clinic was abandoned in March due to safety concerns. BMS will continue to focus on obesity and aims to bring a new compound into the clinic. (See BioWorld Today, March 28, 2002.)
Libraria Inc., of San Jose, Calif., was awarded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Md., a grant to evolve its Chemical Intelligence Platform (ChIP). The $2 million, two-year award will sponsor research and development of ChIP, designed to be an integrated drug discovery system intended to streamline and accelerate the identification and synthetic design of new chemical entities.
MacroPore Biosurgery Inc., of San Diego, signed an agreement to merge with StemSource Inc., of Thousand Oaks, Calif. MacroPore will acquire the outstanding shares of StemSource for about 1.4 million shares of MacroPore, which trades on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. StemSource focuses on the extraction, cryopreservation and clinical application of adult stem cells derived from adipose tissue. MacroPore develops and manufactures bioresorbable surgical implants.
Onyvax Ltd., of London, and Asterand Inc., of Detroit, signed an agreement to combine resources to make prostate cancer cell lines available to commercial and academic researchers. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Onyvax is developing cancer therapies that harness the immune system. Asterand supplies pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies with biological material in various formats backed by clinical data.
Orchid BioSciences Inc., of Princeton, N.J., appointed George Poste chairman. Previously, Poste was president of research and development and the chief science and technology officer at SmithKline Beecham plc. Orchid provides services and products for profiling genetic uniqueness.
Peoples Genetics Inc., of Woburn, Mass., received a $2 million grant to create an instrument to discover all of the disease-causing mutations among the human genome's 40,000 genes. Peoples Genetics provides services for biopharmaceutical companies and research institutions while pursuing its own genetic discoveries.
The Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle, was awarded a $19.8 million contract to develop technology in the proteomics field. The contract is meant to establish the institute as one of 10 centers nationwide for the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute's long-term proteomics initiative. The centers will focus on developing new technologies for heart, lung and blood diseases.
Pharmacyclics Inc., of Sunnyvale, Calif., presented at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology meeting in New Orleans interim results from its Phase II trial of Xcytrin (motexafin gadolinium) injection for the treatment of glioblastoma multiforme. The single-arm study was designed to evaluate the safety, pharmacokinetics and effect on survival of a six-week treatment course of Xcytrin combined with a standard six-week course of radiation therapy. Preliminary data show that more than 80 percent of 25 patients were alive at six months. The median survival is 12.6 months to date, with nine patients still alive. Xcytrin is designed to selectively localize in tumor cells.
Surface Logix Inc., of Boston, and Ancora Pharmaceuticals Inc., also of Boston, were jointly awarded a three-year $6.9 million grant by the National Institute of Standards and Technology Advanced Technology Program. The companies will use the funding to develop carbohydrate-based assays, solid-phase synthesis and surface-based detection methodologies applicable to drug discovery. They will combine Surface Logix's assay development and micro-fabrication techniques and Ancora's carbohydrate synthesis and biology capabilities.
The National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., said it sponsored John Fenn, the winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, through the National Institute of General Medicine Sciences. Fenn is cited for refining mass spectrometry. The NIGMS provided more than $1.5 million to support Fenn's research from 1984 to 1994.
Transgene SA, of Strasbourg, France, and Mirus Corp., of Madison, Wis., said they achieved a research milestone in the application of Mirus' technology for the delivery of Transgene's plasmid-based vector to skeletal muscles, for the treatment of Duchenne's muscular dystrophy. The companies used Mirus' delivery technology to achieve efficient delivery of Transgene's plasmid-based gene vector to at least 10 percent of large limb muscles in primate and nonprimate animal models.
Vion Pharmaceuticals Inc., of New Haven, Conn., initiated a Phase II trial of Triapine as a single agent in patients with recurrent or metastatic squamous cell cancer of the head and neck. The trial is being conducted at multiple institutions in Europe. Triapine is designed to be an inhibitor of ribonucleotide reductase. The company said it plans to advance Triapine into at least four Phase II trials.
Xencor Inc., of Monrovia, Calif., was awarded a $2 million Advanced Technology Program grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Md., to support the discovery of safer and more effective protein therapeutics. The three-year grant supports the development of Xencor's ImmunoPDA technology to create non-immunogenic proteins optimized for therapeutic use and to eliminate immunogenicity from known protein drugs.
ZymoGenetics Inc., of Seattle, named Interleukin-21 its fourth product candidate for clinical development. IL-21 is a protein that regulates a variety of cell types, including cytotoxic T cells and natural killer cells. The company said it expects to file an investigational new drug application for IL-21 in the first half of 2004.