Autogen Ltd., of Melbourne, Australia, said it discovered a gene called Tanis. Tanis codes for an inflammatory response protein in the liver called serum amyloid A, the overproduction of which Autogen said plays a role in both Type II diabetes and heart disease. Autogen has labeled Tanis and serum amyloid A as targets for new treatments.

AVI BioPharma Inc., of Portland, Ore., presented at the 84th annual Endocrine Society meeting in San Francisco completed preclinical studies that showed its Neugene antisense drug for prostate cancer successfully programed cancer cells for apoptosis, as well as inhibited cancer cells from becoming metastatic. Data demonstrated Neugene targets matrix metalloproteinase-9, an enzyme implicated in tumor development, specifically a tumor's ability to become invasive and metastatic. AVI said it expects to enter clinical development next year.

Biogen Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., and SurroMed Inc., of Mountain View, Calif., entered a two-year collaboration to study patients with multiple sclerosis and characterize patients' responses to Biogen's Avonex (interferon-beta-1a). SurroMed will use its platform for biological marker discovery and comprehensive phenotyping to identify biological markers useful for discovering and developing new MS drugs and markers that can be commercialized as diagnostic tests to guide and improve MS patient care and treatment. SurroMed will receive research funding, a technology access fee and could receive milestone payments. Also, SurroMed would receive royalties from sales of diagnostic tests.

Biota Holdings Ltd., of Melbourne, Australia, named Peter Molloy CEO and managing director, effective July 15. Molloy, who will be based in the U.S., also was named chairman of Biota's U.S. subsidiary, Biota Inc., located in San Diego. Previously, Molloy was with Pharmacia Corp., of Peapack, N.J. Biota is developing a pipeline of antiviral drugs targeting influenza and other acute respiratory tract infections.

Celgene Corp., of Warren, N.J., received an undisclosed milestone payment from partner Novartis Pharma AG, of Basel, Switzerland, for the selection of a selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM) preclinical candidate as part of their December 2000 osteoporosis collaboration. Per the deal, Celgene receives milestone payments for preclinical, clinical and regulatory endpoints, as well as royalties. Celgene granted Novartis worldwide development and commercial rights for SERMs in osteoporosis and exclusive rights to develop SERMs for additional indications, including diseases of the cardiovascular and central nervous systems.

Cell Therapeutics Inc., of Seattle, will make a $1.5 million payment to PG-TXL Co. LP after completing enrollment in a Phase II Xyotax trial in ovarian cancer, as well as advancing Xyotax (polyglutamate paclitaxel) to Phase III trials. In a meeting with the FDA in May, Cell Therapeutics reviewed its Phase II Xyotax results and planned Phase III trials. Cell Therapeutics exclusively licensed the polyglutamate polymer delivery technology from PG-TXL in 1998.

Copernicus Therapeutics Inc., of Cleveland, received a Technology Action Fund grant from the state of Ohio to fund optimization of aerosols of its nonviral compacted DNA nanoparticles for intrapulmonary delivery. Copernicus said the grant would help it develop cost-effective aerosols to treat the airways of cystic fibrosis patients. The company recently initiated its first clinical trial in subjects with cystic fibrosis.

Galapagos Genomics NV, of Mechelen, Belgium, was awarded 4 million (US$3.86 million) in technology development grants in Belgium and the Netherlands. A 2.6 million grant is targeted for a project to build libraries of specific human gene classes to discover therapeutic targets. The remaining 1.4 million grant is designed to develop an adenoviral-based, knockdown technology applicable for in vitro and in vivo target discovery and validation.

Genelabs Technologies Inc., of Redwood City, Calif., said European regulatory authorities said Genelabs' Aslera qualifies for part B status, allowing Genelabs to file a marketing authorization application (MAA) under a centralized procedure. The process allows Genelabs to submit one MAA for simultaneous consideration in all European Union countries, therefore providing for a single review and decision. Genelabs is seeking approval of Aslera to treat women with systemic lupus erythematosus.

Iceland Genomics Corp., of Reykjavik, Iceland, is collaborating with Myriad Genetics Inc., of Salt Lake City, in a cancer gene discovery agreement. Myriad will supply genetic markers and Iceland Genomics will use them with its sample collection to help Myriad localize and identify a cancer gene. Iceland Genomics will receive research support payments as well as milestone payments and royalties on any diagnostic or therapeutic products based on the gene. Financial details were not disclosed.

ICN Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Costa Mesa, Calif., named Robert O'Leary its chairman and CEO, replacing Milan Panic, who is retiring as chairman and CEO but will remain with the board. Most recently, O'Leary was the CEO of the Sagamore Group, of Medfield, Mass. At the same time, ICN purchased the BTX Division of Genetronics Biomedical Corp., of San Diego, for $5 million in cash, subject to shareholder approval. The BTX division focuses on molecular delivery for research laboratories, using electroporation and electrofusion technology.

InforMax Inc., of Bethesda, Md., entered a distribution agreement with United Bioinformatica Inc., of Calgary, Alberta, in which United Bioinformatica will provide Canadian researchers access to InforMax's desktop analysis tools for genomics and proteomics research. InforMax's family of desktop solutions will be available, including the Vector NTI Suite and Xpression NTI. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Proligo LLC, of Boulder, Colo., said it is producing small interfering RNA (siRNA) oligos. Proligo produces and supplies siRNA oligos under license from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Proligo is a subsidiary of Degussa AG and focuses on delivering consumables for functional genomics.

Oxigene Inc., of Watertown, Mass., published in Cancer Research data from a Phase I trial of its tumor-starving vascular targeting agent, Combretastatin A4P (CA4P). The 25-patient study determined the safety, maximum tolerated dose and pharmacokinetic profile of CA4P during 107 cycles of the drug at escalated dose levels. Researchers noted significant blood-flow reduction in patients studied four to six hours after infusion.

Strand Genomics Pvt. Ltd., of Bagalore, India, and Automated Cell Inc., of Pittsburgh, entered a bioinformatics partnership. Strand will provide its algorithmic skill sets and software engineering skills to develop products and solutions for Automated Cell's drug discovery platform. Automated Cell's platform quantifies in vitro disease phenotypes for target prioritization and validation and lead optimization in oncology and immune disease. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Tanox Inc., of Houston, nonexclusively licensed its Bak gene to a privately held biopharmaceutical company for the development of therapeutics. Tanox will receive an up-front license fee and potential milestone payments and royalties. Bak is a member of the Bcl-2 family of proteins that acts as an endogenous promoter of apoptosis.

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