Biacore International AB, of Uppsala, Sweden, entered a research collaboration with BD Biosciences Pharmingen, a unit of Becton, Dickinson and Co., of Franklin Lakes, N.J., for the development of applications for its microarray chip technology. Biacore is developing an array based on its surface plasmon resonance technology that is expected to increase the number of detailed biological evaluations in drug discovery.
Cell Therapeutics Inc., of Seattle, described the role of lysophosphatic acid acyltransferase-B as a new target for cancer therapy. That was demonstrated by using a new genetic technique called RNAi that validates the role of LPAAT-B in cancer cell survival. RNAi prevents the synthesis of the LPAAT enzyme in a live cell. The data demonstrate that LPAAT-B is responsible for the production of phosphatidic acid, a co-factor for the signaling activity of a cancer-causing gene called the ras oncogene.
Collateral Therapeutics Inc., of San Diego, stockholders voted to merge with Schering AG, of Berlin, adopting the agreement that was signed by the parties March 19 and was valued at $140 million in stock. Each share of Collateral's common stock will be converted into the right to receive 0.1847 American depository shares of Schering. With this transaction, approved by the Federal Trade Commission on May 24, Collateral becomes a wholly owned subsidiary of Schering. (See BioWorld Today, March 21, 2002.)
Crucell NV, of Leiden, the Netherlands, and Genexine Co. Ltd., a Korean drug development company, entered a licensing agreement under which Crucell's PER.C6 cell line will be used by Genexine for the research, development and manufacture of a recombinant therapeutic vaccine against hepatitis B. Genexine obtains a worldwide, nonexclusive license for the use of Crucell's cell line. The agreement includes the option for a commercial license, and Crucell will receive up-front and annual payments. Additional financial details were not disclosed.
Isis Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Carlsbad, Calif., said it prepaid $19.7 million in 12 percent convertible debt held by Elan Corp. plc, of Dublin, with $14.7 million in cash. Isis will now fund its portion of the ongoing joint venture research and development, rather than accruing additional convertible debt to Elan. The transaction saved Isis $12.3 million in interest and allows it to avoid 2.2 million shares of potential dilution over the remaining life of the debt. The repayment represents a significant portion of the lines of credit extended by Elan to raise Isis' share of expenses in two joint ventures, Orasense Ltd. and HepaSense Ltd. Isis is an 80.1 percent owner in each joint venture.
Kenna Technologies Inc., of West Chester, Pa., reported an undisclosed strategic investment by MedInnova Partners, of Toronto, in Kenna's in silico drug discovery platform. Kenna's cell cycle model simulates the basic biological processes involved in normal and diseased cells, like those involved in the development of cancer.
Morphochem AG, of Munich, Germany, and Migragen AG, of Tuebingen, Germany, reported a collaboration to identify, optimize and produce small-molecule drug candidates through a joint discovery and development program between the companies. The collaboration initially will focus on nerve regeneration in spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury. The project is based on Morphochem's chemical genomics program to generate patentable small molecules through its multicomponent-reaction chemistry approach for known and unknown targets, and Migragen's expertise in neuronal regeneration and cell migration. The collaboration partners will share ownership of the molecules discovered in the joint program.
NaPro BioTherapeutics Inc., of Boulder, Colo., said the European Patent Office, Opposition Division, ruled that NaPro's currently issued paclitaxel formulation patent in the European Patent Convention is invalid. NaPro intends to appeal the ruling and expects the appeal to be heard within 36 months.
Oncolytics Biotech Inc., of Calgary, Alberta, began a Phase I/II brain cancer trial with Reolysin. The study is expected to enroll 38 patients who have been diagnosed with malignant glioma, an aggressive form of brain tumor. Recurrent malignant glioma is often characterized by activation of the RAS pathway, and Reolysin, developed from the naturally occurring reovirus, has been shown to infect and kill cancer cells with those mutations, the company said.
Salus Therapeutics Inc., of Salt Lake City, completed a Series B financing of $2.4 million. The financing involved the participation of Utah Ventures II, vSpring Capital and WS Investment Co. Utah Ventures made the original seed capital investment in Salus in 1999. Salus uses a proprietary OptiSense technology for the discovery of new oligonucleotide-based medicines.
Shimadzu Corp., of Kyoto, Japan, the founder of Shimadzu Biotech, invested S$2.7 million (US$1.5 million) in Agenica Research Pte. Ltd., a biotechnology venture in Singapore, and intends to collaborate on a research project to construct a database of the unique genes related to cancer. Agenica Research was established in March 2001 with joint investment from the National Cancer Center of Singapore and Mitsui & Co. Ltd., of Tokyo. Shimadzu holds 5.6 percent of Agenica's stock. This is Shimadzu's first external investment in a biotechnology venture.
SIGA Technologies Inc., of New York, and Allergy Therapeutic Holdings Ltd., of Worthing, UK, said they will not go forward with their planned merger due to unfavorable conditions in the financial markets. The companies announced in March that they would merge in an all-stock deal. The merger also would have allowed Elan Corp. plc, of Dublin, Ireland, to expand its collaboration with Allergy Therapeutics and license additional vaccine-related technology to the combined company on an exclusive basis. (See BioWorld Today, March 12, 2002.)
Synergy Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Somerset, N.J., has been granted two Small Business Innovation Research Grants from the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md. The first grant of $106,000 is for the development of analogues of uroguanylin, a peptide that bind guanylate cyclase receptor and stimulates intracellular production of cyclic GMP. The second grant, of $98,000, to be funded in September, is for cloning, expression and production of uroguanylin and other peptide analogues in E. coli.
Trimeris Inc., of Durham, N.C., and Hoffmann-La Roche Inc., of Nutley, N.J., reported final results of a Phase I/II trial demonstrating that T-1249, a second-generation fusion inhibitor candidate, was well tolerated and exhibited antiviral activity in HIV patients. Unlike existing HIV drugs that work inside the cell and target viral enzymes involved in the replication of the virus, the fusion inhibitors T-1249 and T-20 are designed to block fusion of HIV with host cells before the virus enters the cell and begins its replication process. T-20 is in Phase III trials.
Valentis Inc., of Burlingame, Calif., said it will extend to Sept. 3 the tender period of its previously announced tender offer to purchase 16,940 shares, or 55 percent, of its outstanding shares of Series A convertible redeemable preferred stock and 55 percent of the related outstanding common stock purchase warrants, Class A and common stock purchase warrants.
Vical Inc., of San Diego, and Ohio State University in Columbus said the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases will fund a one-year Small Business Technology Transfer Research grant to collaborate on a preclinical research project to develop DNA vaccines against anthrax. Vical will recognize the revenue from the grant as the work is performed. The grant does not change the company's forecast for a net loss of between $28 million and $32 million for 2002.