Ambion Inc., of Austin, Texas, and its division, Ambion RNA Diagnostics, granted Celera Diagnostics, the joint venture between the Applied Biosystems Group and the Celera Genomics Group of Applera Corp., nonexclusive worldwide rights to use its Armored RNA technology in products and processes for in vitro molecular diagnostics. Armored RNA technology is a system invented and developed by Ambion and Cenetron Diagnostics for the packaging of RNA in bacteriophage coat proteins to protect and stabilize RNA. Financial details were not disclosed.

AnorMED Inc., of Vancouver, British Columbia, initiated a Phase I trial of AMD-3100 in cancer patients to determine its potential as a new agent for stem cell transplantation. The trial is part of AnorMED's program to evaluate AMD-3100 to increase the stem cells available for transplant, improve the overall transplantation procedure, and potentially enhance patient outcome. The trial is expected to enroll up to 24 patients. AMD-3100 is designed to block a cellular receptor, triggering the movement of stem cells out of the bone marrow and into circulating blood.

Biopure Corp., of Cambridge, Mass., said the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts dismissed the putative securities class action litigation brought against Biopure and its former chairman and CEO early this year. The class action was the consolidation of five different complaints filed against Biopure and Carl Rausch between Feb. 2 and March 15. Biopure is a developer, manufacturer and marketer of oxygen therapeutics.

ConjuChem Inc., of Montreal, said it accepted the resignation of Robert DuFresne as president, CEO and director of the company. The offices vacated by DuFresne will be filled by Lennie Ryer, Jean-Paul Castaigne and Dominique Bridon on an interim basis. The company said it has initiated a search for candidates for the CEO and president positions. ConjuChem is developing compounds based on two platform technologies for in vivo bioconjugation.

Cypress Bioscience Inc., of San Diego, entered an agreement with Collegium Pharmaceutical Inc., of Hingham, Mass., to develop formulations and new analogues of milnacipran. The companies will aim to develop follow-on products with superior performance to the current formulation of milnacipran. Financial terms were not disclosed.

EluSys Therapeutics Inc., of Pine Brook, N.J., said it received funding from the U.S. government for the development of Heteropolymer (HP) technology against anthrax toxin. The HP drug could be used pre- and post-exposure, including the later stage when the toxin has already been released into the body, the company said. The initial funding of $2.8 million will be administered through the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command.

GTC Biotherapeutics Inc., of Framingham, Mass., presented results from a pharmacokinetic study of recombinant human antithrombin III (rhATIII) in patients with a hereditary deficiency (HD) of antithrombin, at the British Society for Haemostasis and Thrombosis Annual Scientific Meeting at the University of Leicester in the UK. There were 15 healthy adult HD patients in the study. The study showed that administration of rhATIII produced an increase in plasma antithrombin activity similar to that observed when plasma-derived antithrombin products are used in routine clinical practice. An efficacy trial is expected to begin before the end of 2002.

Innovative Drug Delivery Systems Inc., of New York, said results of a Phase I trial of its formulation of intranasal morphine were presented the week of Aug. 19 at the 2002 International Association for the Study of Pain's 10th World Congress on Pain in San Diego. The data suggest intranasal morphine has a pharmacokinetic profile similar to that of intravenous morphine and may offer a safe, noninvasive and rapid-onset alternative to conventional opioids for the treatment of pain, the company said. The trial was a randomized, double-blind, single- and multidose, placebo-controlled study in 48 healthy male and female adult volunteers.

Ixion Biotechnology Inc., of Alachua, Fla., initiated treatment in a pilot study of its oral oxalate therapy, IxOC-2. The study is being conducted at the Division of Pediatric Nephrology, University Children's Hospital in Cologne, Germany. The first study arm will involve five children with confirmed diagnosis of primary hyperoxaluria Type I. Study arms two and three will involve 10 subjects from the cystic fibrosis population and subjects with secondary, absorptive hyperoxaluria due to other reasons. All three arms are open label, involving four weeks of active treatment and two weeks of follow-up.

Ligand Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, said a third of patients with chronic severe hand dermatitis who were treated with its Targretin (bexarotene) gel 1 percent experienced clinical improvement of 90 percent or more, according to an interim analysis of a Phase I/II study. Also, 68 percent of patients who were treated with Targretin achieved a statistically significant improvement of 50 percent or more. Targretin gel 1 percent was approved in June 2000 for the topical treatment of cutaneous lesions in patients with early stage CTCL who have refractory or persistent disease after other therapies or who have not tolerated other therapies.

Microscience Ltd., of Workingham, UK, entered an exclusive license agreement with the University System of Maryland. The agreement grants access to the university system's Bactofection DNA vaccine technology that would make it possible to deliver DNA vaccines orally, the company said. Microscience will apply the rights acquired to the delivery of DNA from a live bacterial vector in all fields, except HIV antigens that have been retained by the university system. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Prescient NeuroPharma Inc., of Toronto, entered a term sheet for a C$1 million (US$638,580) bridge term loan facility with three existing investors: Peter Allard, Business Development Bank of Canada and GeneChem Technologies Venture Fund LP. The bridge loan facility was established so the company could continue operations and discussions toward an equity financing or a strategic transaction. Prescient is focused on the rescue and protection of brain cells.

Stanford University Medical Center, of Stanford, Calif., said researchers tried unsuccessfully to coax adult blood-forming stem cells in mice into forming tissues other than blood and immune cells. The research was published in the Sept. 5, 2002, issue of Science Express, the advanced online publication of Science. Researchers said the failed work "strikes another blow at the idea that stem cells taken from adults have the same development potential as those taken from embryos."