Acacia Research Corp., of Newport Beach, Calif., said its majority-owned subsidiary, CombiMatrix, completed a prototype electrochemical detection system and is set to deliver the system to the U.S. Department of Defense, which funded the research. The focus of the research was aimed at developing an ultrasensitive handheld biochip system for detecting the deployment of chemical and biological warfare agents.
Amarillo Biosciences Inc., of Amarillo, Texas, signed a licensing agreement with African Health Solutions LLC, of Greenville, Del., providing the rights to oral low-dose interferon alpha for the treatment of hepatitis B patients in Africa. Amarillo also said it expanded its relationship with Global Damon Pharm./Damon Pharm Ltd., of Seoul, Korea. Global Damon will distribute in Korea Amarillo's dietary supplements for dry mouth.
Amgen Inc., of Thousand Oaks, Calif., and Immunex Corp., of Seattle, received clearance from the Federal Trade Commission for their merger, valued at $16 billion, when it was announced in December. The merger will proceed provided the companies divest certain assets and license certain intellectual property rights in three areas: neutrophil regeneration factors, tumor necrosis factor inhibitors and interleukin-1 inhibitors. The proposed consent order required the companies to sell all of Immunex's assets related to Leukine, a neutrophil regeneration factor. In May, Immunex sold its Leukine cancer drug to Schering AG, of Berlin for $380 million in cash. The order also would require the companies to grant a license to certain intellectual property rights related to TNF inhibitors to Serono SA, of Geneva, and to certain intellectual rights related to IL-1 inhibitors to Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Tarrytown, N.Y. (See BioWorld Today, Dec. 18, 2001, and May 6, 2002.)
Aphton Corp., of Miami, said the SEC declared its registration statement on Form S-3 effective to sell 5 million shares of common stock. Aphton said proceeds of the sales, whenever they may occur, would be used to fund general corporate purposes, including ongoing clinical trials and operations. Aphton said it has no plans to sell shares at the current share price, but will consider selling them at an appropriate time, quantity and price in the future.
Atrix Laboratories Inc., of Fort Collins, Colo., signed two exclusive licensing agreements for its four Eligard, leuprolide acetate for injectable suspension, prostate cancer products. Biosintetica will market the Eligard products in Brazil with Tecnofarma having marketing rights in the rest of Latin America, including Mexico. The companies entered a supply agreement for the products and each company will be responsible for regulatory submissions. Registration approval is expected in key markets in the next 12 months. Atrix will manufacture the products. Eligard 7.5 mg, a once-a-month prostate cancer product, was approved in the U.S. earlier this year.
BioForce Nanosciences Inc., of Ames, Iowa, was awarded a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., for the construction and validation of the NanoArrayer instrumentation. The grant, for about $500,000, will be used to develop the NanoArrayer molecular deposition tool for creating ultra-miniaturized nanoarrays.
Blizzard Genomics Inc., of St. Paul, Minn., appointed James Adam CEO, succeeding Martin Blumenfeld, the company's founder. Adam joined the company as president in March 2001, a title he retains. He also will serve on Blizzard Genomics' board. Blumenfeld will remain with the company as chief scientific officer response for research and will continue as chairman.
Esperion Therapeutics Inc., of Ann Arbor, Mich., reported positive results from a Phase I trial of the its RLT peptide, or ETC-642, program. The trial was a single-dose study of 28 patients with stable artherosclerosis designed to determine the safety and tolerability of five dose levels of a single intravenous infusion of ETC-642. The RLT peptide mimics the biological properties of apolipoprotein A-I to promote cholesterol removal from arterial walls and other tissues and to enhance reverse lipid transport.
GeneMax Corp., of Blaine, Wash., said it is closing the acquisition of GeneMax Pharmaceuticals Inc., a Delaware private corporation. The acquisition will require the issue of up to about 6.7 million restricted common shares under the share exchange agreement dated May 13, to U.S. and non-U.S. shareholders of GeneMax Pharmaceuticals Inc. The acquisition will require the issue of up to about 4.5 million restricted common shares under a takeover bid circular dated July 8 to Canadian shareholders of GeneMax Pharmaceuticals. It also will require the issuance of up to 188,154 restricted common shares pursuant to debt settlement with certain creditors of GeneMax Pharmaceuticals and 200,000 restricted common shares to be issued as a finders fee pursuant to the transaction. GeneMax specializes in the discovery and development of immunotherapeutics aimed at cancer, and therapies for infectious diseases, autoimmune disorders and transplant tissue rejection.
Genzyme Biosurgery, of Cambridge, Mass., completed enrollment in its Phase I trial of a gene therapy treatment for severe peripheral arterial disease. The trial is a part of Genzyme Biosurgery's clinical efforts to develop new treatments for cardiovascular disease using gene and cell therapy. The study is a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial including 28 patients with critical limb ischemia and no other treatment options. The patients received an engineered form of the HIF-1 alpha gene to promote new blood vessel growth and improve circulation in their limbs.
Guilford Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Baltimore, launched a Phase II trial of Aquavan, a sedative/hypnotic, in patients undergoing coronary artery surgery. The study, taking place in Europe, is the first use of Aquavan injection in surgical patients. The purpose of the study is to evaluate Aquavan injection, compared to Diprivan injectable emulsion, for use in pre-operative sedation, anesthesia induction and maintenance and post-operative ICU sedation in patients undergoing surgery. Aquavan is a water-soluble prodrug of propofol.
Illumina Inc., of San Diego, said it would appeal a California Superior Court judgment in a termination of employment lawsuit. Illumina called the verdict unsupported by evidence and said it would "vigorously defend" its position on appeal. Illumina will accrue a $7.7 million charge for the second quarter to cover total damages and remaining expenses. It plans to release second-quarter results Thursday.
Incyte Genomics Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif., reported publication in the July 15, 2002, issue of Nature Genetics studies aimed at elucidating the mechanisms underlying Type II diabetes mellitus, confirming the importance of the protein PPAR gamma. Data also implicate a second gene, PPP1R3A, which encodes a regulatory subunit for protein phosphatase 1. In affected diabetics, defects in both genes produce severely impaired insulin responsiveness, the company said.
Inhale Therapeutic Systems Inc., of San Carlos, Calif., reported that a product using Inhale's PEGylation technology was granted priority review by the FDA. The FDA granted a six-month priority review status of the biologics license application and new drug application for Basel, Switzerland based F. Hoffman-La Roche Ltd.'s combination therapy of Pegasys and Roche's ribavarin tablets, for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C in patients without cirrhosis and with cirrhosis with compensated liver disease. Pegasys is composed of a high-molecular-weight branched polyethylene glycol molecule linked to inteferon alpha-2a.
InKine Pharmaceutical Co. Inc., of Blue Bell, Pa., said that ZaBeCor Pharmaceutical Co., of Philadelphia, formed an alliance to develop various technologies related to the discoveries of Alan Schreiber, professor of medicine and assistant dean of research at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. InKine granted ZaBeCor the exclusive right to develop, manufacture, market and sell products and technologies covered by InKine-owned patents relating to inflammatory disease. In exchange, InKine received a 47.5 percent ownership in ZaBeCor and ZaBeCor will pay InKine an undisclosed royalty based on net sales of all products discovered or developed by ZaBeCor or its partners. ZaBeCor will be responsible for all development costs. InKine will retain all rights to Colirest and Hematrol.
MGI Pharma Inc., of Minneapolis, initiated a Phase II trial of irofulven, its anticancer compound, in combination with the antitumor drug Camptosar (irinotecan or CPT-11) in patients with advanced gastrointestinal solid tumors. The trial will evaluate the antitumor activity of irofulven when used in combination with irinotecan, with the primary endpoint being objective tumor response rate and secondary endpoints being time to progression, duration of response, overall survival and safety. Up to 125 patients for whom there is no standard chemotherapeutic treatment, or whose disease progressed after standard treatment, will be enrolled, the company said.
Rheologics Inc., of Exton, Pa., added in vitro drug development and discovery capabilities to its device, the Rheolog, enabling researchers to evaluate the effect drugs have on the biophysical properties of human blood, including lubricity, viscosity, red blood cell deformability and yield stress. Released in November, the Rheolog was designed for in vivo measurements of the biophysical properties of unadulterated, circulating whole blood.
SciTegic Inc., of San Diego, said Chugai Pharma USA LLC, a unit of Chugai Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., of Tokyo, renewed its license of SciTegic's Pipeline Pilot software to enhance high-throughput screening for therapeutic products to treat cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Pipeline Pilot allows for the capture and automated data processing in a data-pipelining environment. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Serono SA, of Geneva, authorized the expenditure of up to CHF500 million (US$343 million) to purchase Serono bearer shares, calling the current share price an excellent opportunity to increase long-term shareholder value. The buy-back plan, which will not start before July 25, will be carried out over a maximum period of three years. The purchased shares will be held as treasury shares that Serono does not intend to cancel.
Structural GenomiX Inc., of San Diego, and Asahi Kasei Corp., of Tokyo, entered a collaboration to use SGX's structure-guided drug discovery technologies to identify lead compounds against a cardiovascular target. SGX will use computational chemistry and rapid co-crystallization of the target with compounds from both Asahi and SGX to identify lead compounds for optimization and subsequent clinical development. SGX will receive payments for research funding and potentially milestone payments and royalties.