Advanced Cell Technology Inc., of Worcester, Mass., said it licensed an animal cloning technology to Immerge BioTherapeutics Inc., of Charlestown, Mass. The worldwide nonexclusive license covers Immerge’s work in the development of genetically modified pigs for potential use in xenotransplantation. Separately, the company said it licensed an animal cloning technology to PPL Therapeutics plc, of Edinburgh, Scotland. The worldwide nonexclusive license will cover PPL’s use of somatic cell nuclear transfer technology in the development of genetically modified pigs for potential use in xenotransplantation. Financial terms were not disclosed for either agreement.
Advanced Viral Research Corp., of Yonkers, N.Y., was assigned two issued U.S. patents pertaining to Reticulose technology, with all rights of ownership, title and interests, as part of the settlement of the litigation originally instituted by Advanced against Immune Modulation Maximum Corp., the previous assignee of these two patents. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan assigned Advanced full rights to patent No. 5,849,196, titled “Composition Containing Peptides and Nucleic Acids and Methods of Making Same,” and No. 6,312,602, titled “Peptide-Containing Compositions and Methods of Making and Using Same.”
Alfacell Corp., of Bloomfield, N.J., said it is hosting a meeting for oncologists participating in the Onconase clinical trial program for malignant mesothelioma at Lago Maggiore in Stresa, Italy, April 18-19. More than 50 oncologists and related medical professionals, representing approximately 30 hospitals and clinics in Germany, Italy, Israel and the Czech Republic, are meeting to discuss unresectable MM and its treatment with Onconase both as a single agent and in combination with doxorubicin and other drugs.
Astex Technology Ltd., of Cambridge, UK, appointed Peter Fellner as nonexecutive chairman of the board. Fellner is the CEO of Celltech Group plc, of Slough, UK. Astex is a structure-based drug discovery company that uses high-throughput X-ray crystallography for the identification of novel drug candidates.
AtheroGenics Inc., of Atlanta, said it successfully completed a Phase I trial of AGIX-4207 IV, an intravenous compound being developed for treating signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Results demonstrated that single infusions of AGIX-4207 IV were well tolerated in healthy volunteers at all doses studied, including those doses that reached target-blood levels. There was no dose-related increase in adverse events. AGIX-4207 IV had a safety profile similar to placebo.
Atrix Laboratories Inc., of Fort Collins, Colo., said it submitted a new drug application for Eligard 30-mg four-month leuprolide acetate depot product, for the treatment of advanced prostate cancer. That marks the third NDA the company has filed in the past 13 months. Atrix also reported positive Phase III results of the Eligard product in the treatment of advanced prostate cancer, which were the basis for the filing. Atrix received approval for the Eligard 7.5-mg one-month product in January. (See BioWorld Today, Jan. 25, 2002.)
Cellomics Inc., of Pittsburgh, said AstraZeneca plc, of London, agreed to a license to evaluate CellSpace Knowledge Miner, a bioinformatics tool. No further details were disclosed. CellSpace is a knowledge-mining system that monitors the research literature of molecular and cellular biology, extracting and databasing information regarding relationships between molecules.
Biogen Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., said it is launching an international multicenter study to determine the long-term safety, tolerability and efficacy of its multiple sclerosis drug, Avonex (interferon beta-1a), compared to Rebif (another form of interferon beta-1a), developed by Geneva-based Serono SA. The two-phase study will first evaluate patients who have been on therapy for a minimum of 15 months and a maximum of 21 months prior to enrollment into the trial and have an Expanded Disability Status Scale physical disability score between 0.0 and 5.5. The patients will be divided into two groups, one which includes patients who were treated with a 30-mcg dose of Avonex administered intramuscularly once a week and another which includes patients treated with 44 mcg of Rebif administered subcutaneously three times a week. These patients also will be followed for an additional three years to evaluate the long-term efficacy of interferon beta-1a therapy on a number of clinical and MRI measures.
Cel-Sci Corp., of Vienna, Va., said it discovered a compound called derG. The peptide is a modified human sequence known to bind to both human and mouse immune cells. The peptide was discovered as an outgrowth of Cel-Sci’s research and development activities and collaborations with its L.E.A.P.S. technology. Cel-Sci develops immune system-based treatments for cancer and infectious diseases.
Consensus Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Medford, Mass., was awarded a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a division of the NIH in Bethesda, Md. The grant will advance its drug discovery program for CD4 receptor antagonists to prevent HIV from entering cells. This is the fourth such grant to Consensus and is complementary to its current Phase II SBIR grants for the development of CCR5 and CXCR4 receptor antagonists as HIV entry inhibitors.
Discovery Partners International Inc., of San Diego, entered a drug discovery agreement with Xenon Genetics Inc., of Vancouver, British Columbia, to perform lead optimization services on a metabolic syndrome target. Discovery Partners will use its drug discovery platform of biology, chemistry and informatics capabilities to complement Xenon’s internal development efforts. Financial terms were not disclosed. The companies signed their initial agreement, in which Discovery Partners agreed to provide high-throughput screening and computational chemistry resources, in September.
EntreMed Inc., of Rockville, Md., reported preclinical findings that ocular implants of Panzem (2-methoxyestradiol) showed no toxicity and effectively inhibited the growth of new blood vessels in preclinical models of age-related macular degeneration. The research was conducted under EntreMed’s Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with the National Eye Institute of the NIH. In January, EntreMed entered a $40 million-plus agreement with Allergan Inc., of Irvine, Calif., to develop Panzem as a treatment for age-related macular degeneration.
eXegenics Inc., of Dallas, said it created a class of antibacterial agents specific to certain pathogenic bacteria. The agents demonstrate in vitro antibacterial activity against strains of Staphylococcus aureus and other Gram-positive bacteria that show resistance to other therapeutic agents such as methicillin, oxacillin, nafcillin and vancomycin. eXegenics also said it filed a provisional U.S. patent application regarding the structure and use of the agents.
Genetic Technologies Ltd., of Sydney, Australia, granted a nonexclusive limited license to Nanogen Inc., of San Diego. The license is limited to applications in genetic research and human diagnostics. Nanogen does not receive any rights to the patents for applications in animals, plants, or for any gene mapping applications in any species. Nanogen is paying Genetic Technologies cash and securities worth about A$620,000 (US$329,787).
IGEN International Inc., of Gaithersburg, Md., said the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland reaffirmed its final order of judgment in IGEN’s case against Roche Diagnostics, a division of F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd., of Basel, Switzerland. The judgement awards IGEN $505 million in damages and addresses the companies’ license agreement. The original judgment was entered in February. Roche said it plans to appeal the decision. (See BioWorld Today, Jan. 14, 2002.)
Interleukin Genetics Inc., of Waltham, Mass., entered a research collaboration with UnitedHealth Group’s research arm, the Center for Healthcare Policy and Evaluation, to study how commonly inherited gene variants affect the response of patients with certain inflammatory diseases to specific drugs. Knowledge resulting from this work will help Interleukin develop pharmacogenetic tests that physicians and managed care organizations can use to assist in the selection of the optimal drug for an individual patient. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Introgen Therapeutics Inc., of Austin, Texas, said recurrent head and neck cancer patients receiving higher doses of Advexin gene therapy had significant survival advantage when compared to a group receiving a lower dose. Results from two Phase II studies were presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research held in San Francisco. Results show that, for the first five months of the trial, patients in the Advexin high-dose study were 50 percent more likely to live than those in the low-dose study. Advexin combines an Introgen adenoviral vector with the p53 gene.
Millennium Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., and Ingenuity Systems Inc., of Alviso, Calif., entered a two-year collaboration to develop a system for scientific knowledge management. Ingenuity will deploy its knowledge capability and provide access to its knowledge base of more than 500,000 public findings. Millennium will contribute know-how in developing processes and informatics platforms for discovery and development of personalized medicines. Millennium will provide R&D funding to Ingenuity and also will make equity investments. Additional financial terms were not disclosed.
Molecular Staging Inc., of New Haven, Conn., reported the publication of a paper in the April 16, 2002, issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that describes a method for generating millions of DNA copies from just a few cells. The paper said Molecular Staging’s MDA technology enables an unlimited number of genetic tests per sample.
Myriad Genetics Inc., of Salt Lake City, said it published the location of a predisposition gene for obesity in the April 16, 2002, issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics. The study describes the linkage evidence to a previously undetected obesity predisposition locus at 4p15-p14. The study concludes that, given the magnitude of the LOD score of 11.3, and because almost half of the families with severe obesity in this study are linked to this region, this gene could explain a significant percentage of severe obesity.
NicOx SA, of Sophia Antipolis, France, reported positive Phase I/IIa results for NCX 4016, its nitric oxide-donating derivative of aspirin in development for cardiovascular diseases. It also said it is initiating a Phase II trial in symptomatic peripheral arterial disease. The data demonstrated inhibition of vascular inflammation and platelet activation in a Phase I/IIa model and summarized excellent overall safety in seven Phase I trials. The data were disclosed in four communications as part of 13 scientific presentations of NicOx’s compounds at the Nitric Oxide-Based Drug Therapy Conference in Porto, Portugal.
Oncolytics Biotech Inc., of Calgary, Alberta, began patient treatment in its clinical study to evaluate the efficacy of Reolysin in the treatment of T2 prostate cancer. Reolysin is the formulation of the reovirus, developed by Oncolytics as a potential therapeutic for a range of cancers in humans. The 45-patient, three-center trial is intended to evaluate the efficacy of intratumoral administration of Reolysin in the treatment of cancer that is restricted to the prostate gland. Patients will receive a single injection of Reolysin and will be monitored for approximately three weeks, at which time the prostate will be surgically removed. The primary efficacy endpoint will be the response rate as measured by pathological examination of the tumor.
Paradigm Genetics Inc., of Research Triangle Park, N.C., said it completed an internal restructuring to better focus resources to grow its human health care and agricultural businesses. The restructuring included the establishment of business units for health care and agriculture, the realignment of research groups and a reduction of about 20 percent in the work force. Administrative and some research positions were affected.
Regeneration Technologies Inc., of Alachua, Fla., said it entered into an agreement with its lender that provides for a waiver of certain financial ratio covenants in exchange for RTI’s commitment to repay amounts that it owes under its construction loan facility within the next six months. The agreement also provides for the termination of RTI’s credit line with that lender. RTI processes allograft tissue into shaped implants for use in orthopedic and other surgeries.
Senesco Technologies Inc., of New Brunswick, N.J., said it raised, in conjunction with its ongoing private placement, $1.96 million through a private placement of restricted equity securities with certain accredited investors. The financing consisted of about 1.1 million shares of common stock, warrants to purchase 432,812 shares of common stock with an exercise price of $2 per share, and warrants to purchase 432,812 shares of common stock at $3.25 per share. The funding raises Senesco’s total in the round to about $3.1 million. Senesco developed technology that regulates the onset of cell death.
Senetek plc, of Napa, Calif., entered a direct license agreement with Enprani Co. Ltd., of Seoul, Korea, to market and distribute Kinetin in South Korea. Kinetin is Senetek’s anti-aging skincare technology. The licensing arrangement calls for an undisclosed up-front royalty payment to Senetek, guaranteed annual minimum sales and royalties on future products sold. The companies will collaborate on the manufacture of Kinetin products.
Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research, of San Antonio, said a five-year $6.2 million contract for Pemmaraju Rao, its senior scientist and chairman in its department of organic chemistry, was awarded by the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. The award is for advancing the medical community’s understanding of antiprogestins. Antiprogestins may play a role in contraception, endometriosis and hormone-dependent cancers. Rao received an NIH award in 1973 for steroid hormone research.
Zycos Inc., of Lexington, Mass., said it began treating patients with its cancer drug, ZYC300. The Phase I/IIa trial is being conducted in the United States and will enroll a variety of cancer patients, including breast, ovarian, colorectal and prostate cancer patients. ZYC300 is designed to stimulate the body’s own immune response against cells expressing CYP1B1, a molecule in Zycos’ portfolio of oncology targets.