AGY Therapeutics Inc., of South San Francisco, said it started a drug discovery program based on its Alzheimer’s disease drug target, AGY-110. The target belongs to an established class of intracellular enzymes. The focus of the program will be to identify and discover drug candidates that treat cognitive symptoms, such as memory loss, disorientation, confusion or problems with reasoning and thinking often associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases.
AVAX Technologies Inc., of Kansas City, Mo., presented data at the 93rd annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research. The study, using analytical techniques on cells collected in previous clinical trials, indicated that AVAX’s DNP modified autologous melanoma cell vaccine induced an immunological response within patients’ tumors. AVAX’s DNP modified autologous melanoma cell vaccine is a therapeutic vaccine for metastatic melanoma made from a patient’s own tumor cells that have been treated to make them more easily recognizable by the immune system.
Biomes Inc., of Kalamazoo, Mich., was introduced by Southwest Michigan Innovation Center, the fifth life science firm the center has introduced. The company expects to develop and license drugs derived from a source of naturally occurring microbes. Biomes will concentrate on discovering drugs effective against infectious disease and cancer. The company is located in Western Michigan University’s McCracken Hall.
Boston Biomedica Inc., of West Bridgewater, Mass., was awarded a Phase I Small Business Technology Transfer grant to develop an assay for the detection of prion proteins in blood. This collaborative study with the University of Maryland will aim at applying nucleic acid amplification technologies to the detection of low levels of prions in blood. The first-year funding of $123,000 will support the development of detection reagents and amplification systems.
Caliper Technologies Corp., of Mountain View, Calif., filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Molecular Devices Corp., of Sunnyvale, Calif., alleging that Molecular Devices’ “IMAP” assay products infringe Caliper’s U.S. Patent No. 6,287,774. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. In the suit, Caliper is seeking an injunction against future sales of the infringing IMAP products and damages for past sales.
CellGate Inc., of Sunnyvale, Calif., said it expanded its drug development operations by acquiring the assets of A.R. Kamm Associates, of Cary, N.C., formerly a clinical research organization, and the expansion of its headquarters in Sunnyvale. The North Carolina facility provides CellGate with clinical development infrastructure and capabilities. The renovation of the Sunnyvale headquarters enhances CellGate’s chemistry and biological preclinical resources; CellGate renovated an area of 12,000 square feet. CellGate is developing medicines by chemically combining proprietary transporter molecules with existing drugs.
Curis Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., said findings in the April issue of Kidney International show treatment with Bone Morphogenetic Protein 7 (BMP-7) in an animal model can prevent the onset of bone degeneration and associated scarring to the bone marrow that occurs as result of chronic kidney disease. These results suggest that BMP-7 holds therapeutic promise for the treatment of bone disorders that frequently occur in patients undergoing dialysis treatment and supports the premise that BMP-7 may help preserve skeletal integrity throughout the body. The report also suggests that BMP-7 may be effective in the treatment of medical conditions that are known to be associated with chronic kidney disease.
Cyanotech Corp., of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, said the use of Spirulina stimulates the human immune response to cancer. The company said this is its second cancer study with Spirulina and the first to suggest a possible mechanism. Cyanotech markets a specialty line of Spirulina Pacifica products under its Nutrex Hawaii brand. The company focuses on microalgae technology.
DeveloGen AG, of Gottiingen, Germany, appointed Gunther Karmann CEO. Karmann most recently was head of life sciences at Bayer AG, of Leverkusen, Germany. He will focus on transitioning DeveloGen into a clinical-stage company developing therapies for metabolic diseases.
DiaDexus Inc., of South San Francisco, the Mayo Clinic, of Rochester, Minn., and Mayo Medical Laboratories entered a collaborative agreement to explore the clinical applications for a test that detects a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. The test, called the PLAC Test, was developed by DiaDexus to assess an individual’s risk for cardiovascular diseases. Mayo and Mayo Medical will conduct various research studies to evaluate applications of the test in a variety of cardiovascular care settings. The agreement provides Mayo Medical nonexclusive rights to offer the test to its laboratory clients.
Exelixis Inc., of South San Francisco, published a paper in Nature (vol. 10/1038) that places a gene, previously known to be involved in the innate immune response, into a specific biological pathway. Exelixis and collaborators demonstrated that PGRP-LC (Peptidoglycan recognition protein-LC) plays a role in the ability of Drosophila to respond to microbial infection by triggering a pathway leading to activation of NF-kB. The findings suggest the presence of a similar signaling pathway in humans that could provide insight into treating inflammatory diseases.
Exten Industries Inc., of San Diego, said its subsidiary, MultiCell Technologies, amended a patent license agreement with Rhode Island Hospital (RIH). The patent portfolio includes a method for isolating and immortalizing a population of primary hepatocytes that are high in P450 enzymes. RIH continues to grant rights to the portfolio and MultiCell provides royalty payments to RIH. The hospital now will receive accelerated royalty payments based on net sales of products associated with the patents.
Genaissance Pharmaceuticals Inc., of New Haven, Conn., said the first patient was enrolled in its clinical study, called the Caring study, designed to discover the genomic marker or markers for identifying patients at risk of clozapine-induced agranulocytosis, a depletion of white blood cells. The Caring study is the first study in the company’s HAP-Clozapine development plan, and is designed to provide the information that may enable physicians to prescribe HAP-Clozapine to patients while minimizing or eliminating the need for frequent blood monitoring. The study will enroll patient volunteers who were previously treated with clozapine and developed either agranulocytosis or a reduction in their white blood cell count.
Genzyme Corp., of Cambridge, Mass., a division of Genzyme General, released its first-quarter earnings, with a net income allocated to Genzyme General stock before special items and prior to amortization of $45.5 million, or 21 cents per diluted share. Revenues for the quarter were $242.1 million, an increase of 9 percent from 2001’s first quarter revenues of $222.7 million. First-quarter sales of Renagel were $29.5 million. Sales of Cerezyme were $148.1 million. Fabrazyme sales were $4 million. The company finished the quarter with about $1.1 billion in cash and marketable securities.
Guilford Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Baltimore, said the final imaging data analysis from a Phase II trial of GPI 1485 (formerly NIL-A) was presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in Denver. The data suggest that GPI 1485 administered orally for six months may retard the loss of dopamine transporters in patients with Parkinson’s disease. The trial was a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled evaluation of GPI 1485 in patients with mild to moderate Parkinson’s disease. The principal efficacy endpoint in the study was the change in the motor subscale of the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale during the 24 weeks of treatment. The other major endpoint was the change in dopamine transporter density.
Maxygen Inc., of Redwood City, Calif., said its wholly owned subsidiary, Codexis Inc., and Cargill Dow LLC, of Minnetonka, Minn., signed an agreement focused on the development of a synthesis for a raw material for Cargill’s NatureWorks polylactide. Codexis will apply its protein modification technologies toward creating a natural-based process for the production of lactic acid. NatureWorks is focused on deriving raw materials from annually renewable resources.
MedImmune Inc., of Gaithersburg, Md., signed the closing documents for its new headquarters in Gaithersburg. Groundbreaking for the first phase of the building is expected in the next several weeks, with occupancy by fall 2003. The site will be able to accommodate facilities of up to 750,000 square feet.
Mixture Sciences Inc., of San Diego, in collaboration with researchers at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, the Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies and the National Cancer Institute reported in the April 1, 2002, issue of Cancer Research on the utility of mixture-based peptide combinatorial libraries and biometrical data analysis for the identification of peptides recognized by T lymphocytes. Mixture Sciences specializes in biomedical research and drug discovery.
Nabi Biopharmaceuticals, of Rockville, Md., initiated a Phase I/II trial for its investigational product, Civacir, an antibody-based therapy being developed to prevent hepatitis C virus re-infection of transplanted livers in patients suffering from hepatitis C. The study will evaluate two dose levels of Civacir in a randomized controlled trial. Separately, the company said it opened its new manufacturing facility. The facility will produce Nabi-HB, Altastaph and Civacir.
NeoTherapeutics Inc., of Irvine, Calif., said the right of first refusal granted to two institutional investors as part of a financing agreement in April 2001 expired. NeoTherapeutics no longer is required to offer these investors the right to take financings negotiated with other parties. NeoTherapeutics seeks to create value for stockholders through the discovery and development of central nervous system drugs, in-licensing and commercialization of anticancer drugs, and the licensing out of new drug targets discovered through genomics research.
Nyxis Neurotherapies Inc., of Chicago, said it saw favorable results from a series of preclinical studies of NT-13, a product derived from a family of compounds called glyxins that act as a modulator of the NMDA receptor. NT-13 was shown to enhance learning and memory, protect neural tissue during stroke and alleviate neuropathic pain. It showed no adverse side effects. Clinical trials for dysesthetic or neuropathic pain are scheduled to begin in the third quarter, the company said.
Regma Bio Technologies Ltd., of London, completed its first preclinical experiments for tuberculosis and multidrug-resistant tuberculosis. The Regma phage therapy formula produced a demonstrable positive effect that gives confidence for the concept of a phage-based treatment for both afflictions. In the first experiment, a significant difference was evident between treated groups and control groups. Regma develops methods, agents and technologies for the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases.
Seattle Biomedical Research Institute, of Seattle, established a pilot project for a Tuberculosis Genotyping Center in collaboration with the Tuberculosis Control Program of the Seattle-King County Department of Public Health. Genotyping helps verify tuberculosis chains of transmission, which helps public health officials plan and implement local and regional tuberculosis control programs. Seattle Biomedical’s focus includes malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.
Serono SA, of Geneva, presented 48-week data from its Evidence head-to-head study of Rebif vs. Avonex (Biogen Inc., of Cambridge, Mass.) at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in Denver. The primary endpoint was based on a comparison of the proportion of patients who did not experience a relapse of multiple sclerosis at 24 weeks. Over 48 weeks, 62 percent of patients who received Rebif did not have a relapse compared to 52 percent of Avonex-treated patients, a statistically significant difference (p=0.009). Rebif patients had a 19 percent relative increase in remaining free of relapses over the 48 weeks, compared to Avonex patients, Serono said. The comparative figure during the first 24 weeks was also 19 percent in favor of Rebif. Rebif patients had a 30 percent reduction in the rate of occurrence of first relapse during the 48 weeks relative to Avonex patients (p<0.003).