Apovia AG, of Martinsried, Germany, closed a EUR19 million (US$17.1 million) third-round financing led by Heidelberg Innovation. Other investors include Genavent, Societe Generale Asset Management and VCH Equity Group AG. Also participating were existing investors 3i, Global Life Science Holding II GmbH and Oxford Bioscience Partners and private individuals. Arthur Andersen Corporate Finance acted as adviser. Apovia will use the funding to validate its CorVax technology in humans and to further develop the company’s product pipeline of preclinical and clinical candidates. Berthold Hackl of Heidelberg Innovation and Thomas Taapken of Genavent will join Apovia’s supervisory board. Apovia’s CorVax technology is an antigen delivery and carrier platform that stimulates antibody production and primes cellular immunity.

Argenta Discovery Ltd., of Harlow, UK, entered a collaborative agreement with Millennium Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., to provide biochemical screening to support Millennium’s drug discovery programs. Financial details were not disclosed. Argenta will perform in vitro absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion studies to support Millennium’s drug discovery activities in Europe. Argenta provides a contract service to pharmaceutical companies, converting hits and leads into validated patentable chemical lead series. The company also works actively on its own research projects.

NexMed Inc., of Robbinsville, N.J., said Alprox-TD, its cream treatment for erectile dysfunction, was launched in Hong Kong under the trademark Befar. Befar incorporates alprostadil with the NexACT transdermal delivery technology. NexMed’s pipeline, based on the NexACT technology, includes Femprox, for female sexual arousal disorder.

Axovan AG, of Basel, Switzerland, said it secured a CHF30 million (US$18.2 million) second-round financing through a private placement led by Atlas Venture, of the UK. New investors Heidelberg Innovation of Germany, NeoMed of Norway, Banque Cantonale Vaudoise Private Equity of Switzerland and all existing investors participated in the round. The proceeds will be used primarily to accelerate the development of new compounds from its G protein-coupled receptor discovery platform. Axovan also announced the acquisition from F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd., of Basel, Switzerland, of the worldwide rights to an injectable endothelin antagonist to be developed for the prevention and treatment of vasospasm following subarachnoid hemorrhage. Roche and its Japanese operation retained rights to reacquire the compound in the future. The molecule is expected to enter Phase II trials later this year in Europe and next year in the U.S.

BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc., of Novato, Calif., said it began dosing patients last month in a Phase II trial of Aryplase (recombinant human N-acetylgalactosamine 4-sulfatase or arylsulfatase B), an investigational enzyme replacement therapy to treat mucopolysaccharidosis VI (MPS VI). Also known as Maroteaux-Lamy syndrome, MPS VI is a life-threatening lysosomal storage disorder for which no specific drug treatments exist. The primary objective of the open-label, multinational trial will be to evaluate the efficacy, safety and pharmacokinetics of weekly intravenous infusions of 1.0 mg/kg of Aryplase in 10 MPS VI patients.

CancerVax Corp., of Carlsbad, Calif., said results of a study presented at the 11th Annual Congress of the European Society of Surgical Oncology in Lille, France, indicated that Canvaxin, its therapeutic cancer vaccine, increased median overall survival in the postsurgical treatment of patients with stage III melanoma. The results are from a retrospective, matched-pair analysis of 635 pairs of patients in a Phase II study. In patients treated with the Canvaxin vaccine, the median overall survival was 58 months compared to 28 months for patients not treated with the vaccine (p=0.0001). Canvaxin vaccine is an allogeneic, whole-cell vaccine that expresses at least 30 known tumor-associated antigens, the company said.

Hollis-Eden Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, said it is releasing data at the Radiation Research Society meeting in Reno, Nev., from a preclinical study of radiation injury indicating that its immune-regulating hormone, HE2100, is stimulating the innate immune system and key immune cells involved in elimination of infectious pathogens. When given to animals prior to exposure to lethal doses of radiation, HE2100 stimulated the production of a number of white blood cells involved in granulocytes, monocytes and natural killer cells. Also, HE2100 enhanced the ability of granulocytes to engulf and eliminate pathogens and the ability of monocytes to destroy pathogens by means of oxidation, it said.

Isis Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Carlsbad, Calif., reported the second extension of its research collaboration with Merck & Co. Inc., of Whitehouse Station, N.J., to discover drug candidates to treat hepatitis C virus. Merck will pay Isis research support for an additional year, as well as a research milestone, clinical development milestone payments for compounds that arise from the collaboration and royalties from product sales. The companies began the original three-year drug discovery collaboration in June 1998 and announced the first one-year extension last May. Merck has the right to commercialize any drugs resulting from the collaboration, while Isis retains any technology for its antisense program. (See BioWorld Today, June 10, 1998.)

Lorus Therapeutics Inc., of Toronto, said Mayne Pharma, previously called Faulding Pharmaceuticals Inc., a division of F.H. Faulding & Co. Ltd., of Melbourne, Australia, exercised its option to acquire the distribution rights for Virulizin in Brazil for the treatment of malignant melanoma. Mayne will market and sell Virulizin for the treatment of malignant melanoma, and Lorus will receive royalties from the sales of Virulizin and will be responsible for its manufacturing. Mayne will share in any additional clinical development and regulatory costs the companies agree are appropriate in Brazil.

Maxim Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, said at the European Association for the Study of the Liver conference in Madrid, Spain, that its lead drug candidate, Ceplene (histamine dihydrochloride), was shown in a preclinical study to potentiate and improve the activation of critical immune cells by interferon-alpha. In the preclinical study, human NK cells and cytotoxic T cells were treated in vitro with interferon-alpha, with or without Ceplene. The addition of Ceplene resulted in a greater than 400 percent improvement of interferon-alpha-induced activity in both NK cells and cytotoxic T cells.

NeoPharm Inc., of Lake Forest, Ill., filed for arbitration with Pharmacia Corp., of Peapack, N.J., to resolve a dispute concerning delays in the development programs for LEP (Liposome Encapsulated Paclitaxel) and LED (Liposome Encapsulated Doxorubicin). NeoPharm contends that Pharmacia failed in its duty under the agreement to use reasonable efforts to develop LEP and LED. NeoPharm further contends that Pharmacia breached its duty to consult with NeoPharm on the progress of the drug development program, impairing NeoPharm’s ability to monitor the development. NeoPharm will seek damages including, but not limited to, lost co-promotion and royalty revenues and milestone payments. NeoPharm’s stock (NASDAQ:NEOL) fell $4.98 Monday, or 24.4 percent, to close at $15.43.

OSI Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Melville, N.Y., filed a registration statement to allow holders of the 4 percent convertible senior subordinated notes due 2009 to resell their notes and the shares of common stock into which they are convertible. The notes are convertible into shares of common stock at $50 each. OSI sold $200 million aggregate principal amount of convertible notes Feb. 1 by means of an offering memorandum to qualified institutional buyers. (See BioWorld Today, Jan 30, 2002.)

Regenesis Biomedical Inc., of Scottsdale, Ariz., completed a Series A round of financing of nearly $2.8 million. The funds were invested by Solstice Capital LP, of Tucson, Ariz.; Tucson Ventures LLC, also of Tucson; Village Ventures Inc., of Williamstown, Mass.; and Aztec Venture Network LLC, of San Diego. Regenesis said it will use the funds to advance the research and development of Cell Proliferation Induction, its core technology, as well as to accelerate regulatory and reimbursement programs and the expansion of sales and marketing efforts for its first product, the Provant Wound Closure System.

The Immune Response Corp., of Carlsbad, Calif., received notification from the European Patent Office that AstraZeneca plc, of London, and T Cell Sciences Inc., of Needham, Mass., withdrew their opposition to Immune Response’s European Patent No. 0463101, titled “Vaccination Against Diseases Resulting From Pathogenic Responses By Specific T-Cell Populations.” The appeal procedure was terminated and the February 1999 decision by the European Patent Office to uphold Immune Response’s patent with all its original claims is final.

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