Ambion Inc., of Austin, Texas, was awarded by the National Institute General Medical Sciences, a division of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., a $1.6 million Phase II Small Business Innovation Research grant to develop RNA amplification technologies. Ambion said it would use the funds as part of a comprehensive study of RNA amplification.

Amgen Inc., of Thousand Oaks, Calif., filed with the FDA a supplemental biologics license application for its Enbrel (etanercept) manufacturing facility in Rhode Island and for related fill-and-finish operations. Amgen said its goal of gaining approval for the facility would allow it to increase the supply of Enbrel, which it markets in North America along with Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, a division of Wyeth, of Madison, N.J.

Aphton Corp., of Miami, filed with European regulatory authorities the equivalent of a U.S. investigational new drug application to conduct a study in patients suffering from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). The trial will examine G17DT's efficacy in providing symptomatic relief to patients suffering from GERD. A recently concluded Phase II trial demonstrated a reduction of post-meal levels of gastrin to pre-meal levels in patients immunized with G17DT. For patients also treated with the proton-pump inhibitor drug omeprazole, there was a reduction in the increase in gastrin levels induced by omeprazole to pre-meal levels of gastrin.

Dharmacon Research Inc., of Lafayette, Colo., completed a $5.7 million round of equity financing led by Boulder Ventures Ltd., of Boulder, Colo., with Telegraph Hill Partners, of San Francisco, also participating. The financing will be used to expand the company's research and development activities and increase automated production capabilities. Dharmacon is focused on development and commercializing synthetic ribonucleic acid and related technologies.

Genencor International Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif., said its executive officers paid off the outstanding balances of principal and accrued interest on their obligations under notes issued in connection with a restricted common stock purchase executed in April 2000. It tendered about 1.4 million shares of restricted common stock - including shares tendered to cover an estimated $200,000 net capital gain liability - valued at $10.77 each. The officers also were granted stock options at $10.77 each, under an incentive plan approved in May. The tendered shares will be returned to Genencor's treasury. In other news, the company said CEO Thomas Mitchell reported his plans to retire next year, though Genencor said he would maintain his position as chairman.

Genentech Inc., of South San Francisco, was denied its bid by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge to void a jury verdict ordering the company to pay $500 million to City of Hope National Medical Center to settle a business dispute concerning research done by scientists at City of Hope and Genentech technology. A spokeswoman for Genentech said the company doesn't view the verdict as "significant at all." Sabrina Johnson said the post-trial motions, which also included a request for a new trial, were routine and in no way change the company's plans to file an appeal of the judgment in the near future.

Orphan Medical Inc., of Minnetonka, Minn., named Express Scripts Inc., of St. Louis, the sole distributor of its Xyrem (sodium oxybate) oral solution. Financial terms were not disclosed. Orphan said it expects Xyrem to be available early in the fourth quarter. The FDA last month approved Xyrem for the treatment of cataplexy, an affliction associated with narcolepsy, making it the first and only medication approved to treat the disorder. (See BioWorld Today, July 19, 2002.)

PNP Therapeutics Inc., of Birmingham, Ala., entered an exclusive agreement with Mayne Group, of Melbourne, Australia, to license its patented cell-killing gene technology that is a component in Mayne's prostate cancer treatment, FP253, currently in development. Mayne will combine PNP's technology with other technology licensed from an Australian research organization. Preclinical tests have shown the cell-killing system to be potent, destroying dividing and nondividing prostate cancer cells, the company said. Financial terms were not disclosed.

TurboGenomics Inc., of New Haven, Conn., said TurboBench 2.0 is available as an application software platform automated for computational workflows common in drug discovery. The company said it is designed to enable use of all the computing power available on heterogeneous mixtures of multiprocessor servers, clusters, networked desktops and computational grids without rewriting current applications.

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