Alchemia Pty. Ltd., of Brisbane, Australia, and CelTor Biosystems, of Santa Clara, Calif., entered a collaboration to identify new compounds active against a variety of G protein-coupled receptor targets. The collaboration will combine Alchemia’s Versatile Assembly on Sugar Templates (VAST) chemistry platform with CelTor’s CelBase Disease model technology to develop new drug candidates.
Abgenix Inc., of Fremont, Calif., and Diabetogen Biosciences Inc., of London, Ontario, executed a research and collaboration, option and license agreement to discover and develop a fully human monoclonal antibody therapy against an undisclosed antigen for the treatment of autoimmune disease. Abgenix will use its XenoMouse technology to generate fully human antibodies against the new antigen, supplied by Diabetogen. Abgenix will receive an up-front research license fee, and could receive additional license and milestone payments and royalties on any future product sales. Diabetogen will be responsible for product development, manufacturing and commercialization of any resulting products. This agreement is the second between the companies and is independent of the prior agreement executed in March 2001.
Affymetrix Inc., of Santa Clara, Calif., and The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR), of Rockville, Md., completed a joint GeneChip Arabidopsis thaliana array design representing approximately 24,000 genes on a single microarray. The array is based on information from the international Arabidopsis sequencing project. Under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation, TIGR led the effort to re-annotate the Arabidopsis genome, which resulted in the collaboration with Affymetrix on the new array design. Arabidopsis annotation data from the TIGR database will be hosted by the NetAffx Analysis Center at www.affymetrix.com and www.tigr.org.
Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, began a dose-titration study of Symlin (pramlintide acetate) in patients with Type I diabetes who are trying to improve their glucose control. The study initiation follows successful completion of two of four pharmacology studies also requested by the FDA. The two completed studies focused on timing of dose administration relative to meals and the perception of hypoglycemia. The placebo-controlled, dose-titration study is focused on safety and will evaluate approximately 250 people over seven months.
AnorMED Inc., of Vancouver, British Columbia, initiated a Phase I trial in healthy volunteers to measure the increase in stem cells when the company’s AMD-3100 is used in combination with Thousand Oaks, Calif.-based Amgen Inc.’s Neupogen, compared to either drug alone. AnorMED is evaluating AMD-3100’s ability to increase the stem cells available for transplant, improve the overall transplantation procedure and potentially enhance the patient outcome. Eighteen patients are expected to be enrolled.
AtheroGenics Inc., of Atlanta, said the results of a preclinical study support the effectiveness of a novel v-protectant, AGI-1096, to decrease the incidence of graft narrowing in preclinical allograft recipients. Scientists presented data at the International Society for Heart & Lung Transplantation 2002 annual meeting. The study introduced AGI-1096 as a “newly developed antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound that inhibits the inducible expression of VCAMM-1 and MCP-1 in endothelial cells as well as smooth muscle cell proliferation, giving it the potential to prevent chronic allograft arteriosclerosis.”
Autogen Ltd., of New South Wales, Australia, a gene and protein discovery company, entered an agreement with Sequenom Inc., of San Diego, to use Autogen’s eXpress technology platform to validate and characterize Sequenom proprietary genetic targets. The agreement follows a previously announced memorandum of understanding between the two companies. Terms were not disclosed.
Biotherapies Inc., of Ann Arbor, Mich., said it developed three different immortalized cell lines, derived from normal human mammary cells. The cells, when cultured in low-calcium, liquid growth media, seem to continue to grow indefinitely, the company said. The company uses the cells to produce the active form of the Mammastatin protein. Biotherapies focuses on cancer therapies and diagnostics.
Cepheid Inc., of Sunnyvale, Calif., appointed John Bishop CEO and a member of the board. Bishop is formerly president and CEO of Vysis Inc., of Downer’s Grove, Ill., now a clinical diagnostics subsidiary of Abbott Laboratories. He succeeds co-founder Thomas Gutshall, who will continue as chairman. Bishop brings more than 25 years of management experience in instrumentation and clinical diagnostics.
EntreMed Inc., of Rockville, Md., reported preclinical findings that a new derivative of thalidomide induces sustained tumor regression in preclinical models of multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that causes bone loss. The analogue S-3APG, also known as ENMD 0995, produced this sustained regression even in tumors from cell lines resistant to conventional chemotherapy. ENMD 0995 exhibited less toxicity and greater antitumor activity than thalidomide. The findings are featured in the April 15, 2002, issue of Cancer Research.
Ethypharm SA, of Paris, and Biovail Corp., of Toronto, formed a US$61 million strategic alliance under which Biovail is becoming Ethypharm’s North American partner for the development and commercialization of a portion of its product portfolio. Biovail made an equity investment to acquire a 15 percent minority stake in Ethypharm, and the companies entered into a technology cross-license agreement. Ethypharm will develop six products for Biovail using its drug delivery technologies, from oral to injectable controlled release. Biovail will have exclusive rights to the products in North America, Puerto Rico and Mexico in exchange for milestones, payable upon regulatory approval, and royalty payments on future sales, while Ethypharm will retain exclusive rights for the rest of the world.
Euroscreen SA, of Brussels, Belgium, gained exclusive worldwide rights from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York to a patent estate covering a human hormone receptor technology based on a G protein-coupled receptor that binds gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH). The human GnRH receptor is implicated in a number of diseases, including hormonally responsive prostate cancer and endometriosis. Euroscreen said it will use the technology to discover and characterize molecules that modulate the GnRH receptor and demonstrate a therapeutic effect in treating diseases in which it plays a role. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Exelixis Inc., of South San Francisco, identified and validated pesticide targets through its Genoptera joint venture with the crop protection division of Bayer AG, of Leverkusen, Germany. Assay development and subsequent high-throughput screening of the targets against Bayer’s compound collection may lead to the development of better pest control agents. The delivery of the targets triggered an undisclosed milestone payment to Exelixis. Genoptera LLC is an Exelixis-Bayer joint venture with the aim of identifying targets and providing assays for the discovery of new crop protection substances, in particular insecticides and nematicides.
Human Genome Sciences Inc., of Rockville, Md., said it is discontinuing development of Mirostipen as a single agent for treatment of chemotherapy-induced neutropenia. Two Phase IIa studies in combination with cancer drugs showed Mirostipen was well tolerated and showed some evidence of biological activity in one of the trials, but not enough to warrant further development. Separately, HGS said it began an initiative to develop a long-acting form of granulocyte-colony stimulating factor for the treatment of chemotherapy-induced neutropenia. The new drug, called Albugranin, was made using HGS’s albumin fusion technology. Albugranin is a long-acting form of G-CSF made by fusion of the gene for human albumin to that of human G-CSF.
ID Biomedical Corp., of Vancouver, British Columbia, was granted permission by the Biologics and Genetic Therapies Directorate of the Health Products and Foods Branch of Health Canada to conduct a Phase II trial of StreptAvax, ID Biomedical’s vaccine for the prevention of infections caused by group A streptococcus. ID Biomedical said StreptAvax is the only vaccine of its kind being tested in human trials. StreptAvax is a multivalent recombinant vaccine developed to cover 26 serotypes of group A streptococcus.
Immunex Corp., of Seattle, entered a manufacturing agreement with Genentech Inc., of South San Francisco, that calls for the production of Enbrel at Genentech’s manufacturing facility in South San Francisco. The facility is expected to add supply capacity for Enbrel beginning in 2004, subject to FDA approval. Currently, Enbrel is manufactured at a plant operated by Immunex’s manufacturing partner. Immunex’s Rhode Island facility is expected to be approved later this year.
Lexrite Labs Inc., of Dixon, Calif., received a $500,000 Phase I Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Cancer Institute’s FLAIR (Flexible System to Advance Innovative Research for Cancer Drug Discovery by Small Businesses) program. Lexrite was awarded the grant to extend its antibody conjugate technology to develop new drugs capable of permanently binding to a selected tumor antigen on adenocarcinoma cells.
Medivir AB, of Cambridge, UK, and Huddinge, Sweden, signed an agreement worth up to $42 million with F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd., of Basel, Switzerland, for Medivir’s HIV treatment, MV026048. The compound is a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor in preclinical development that is expected to enter Phase I trials in 2003. Roche will make an up-front payment of $5 million, of which $2 million is in equity. The remaining potential $37 million is in milestones, should the product reach the market. Roche also would pay royalties. Roche will have responsibility for the development of the drug and the exclusive worldwide marketing rights with the exception of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, which will be maintained by Medivir.
Medlyte Inc., of San Diego, closed a $3.5 million Series A round of financing resulting from the conversion of $2.8 million in convertible debt and $750,000 in new capital provided by Johnson & Johnson Development Corp. and Western States Investment Group. Medlyte is an early stage biotechnology company developing diagnostics and therapeutics for heart disease. The company was founded in 1998 to commercialize research on the role sphingolipids, or lipid mediators that become elevated and dysfunctional in acute cardiac events, play in heart disease.
Microbia Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., selected the DecisionSite for Lead Discovery software, developed by Spotfire Inc., of Somerville, Mass. DecisionSite is designed to filter through large amounts of data, accelerating analysis in areas of drug discovery. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Mocon Inc., of Minneapolis, said its Boston subsidiary, Lab Connections Inc., entered into a purchase and supply agreement with Waters Corp., of Milford, Mass., and began providing Waters with a new instrument for use in the proteomics, drug discovery and life sciences market. Based on technology licensed from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, this instrument is part of a new Waters system that will enable pharmaceutical researchers to separate proteins using Waters’ capillary liquid chromatography systems, and prepare them to be analyzed by Maldi mass spectrometry systems manufactured by Waters’ subsidiary, Micromass Ltd., of the UK.
Modex Therapeutics Ltd., of Lausanne, Switzerland, and the University of Geneva reported their joint stem cell factor research program obtained a government grant of US$299,632 from the Swiss Federal Office of the Commission for Technology and Innovation. Modex has an exclusive worldwide license and research collaboration with the university covering stem cell factor modulators, a family of small-peptide molecules used to modulate the location and number of melanocytes in the epidermis. The first indications targeted will be hyperpigmented skin conditions such as lentigo senilis and dysplasic naevi.
Molecular Mining Corp., of Cambridge, Mass., released its GeneLinker Platinum, a software-hardware combination for advanced analysis of gene expression data as well as data from other domains. It is designed to provide efficient discovery and characterization of higher-order correlations among objects in a multidimensional dataset. This technique allows users to analyze data through in silico inference and prediction.
NeoPharm Inc., of Lake Forest, Ill., reported additional preliminary data from its 12-patient Phase I study on its investigational tumor-targeting agent, IL13-PE38, for malignant glioma. The study was designed to determine the histologically effective concentration of IL13-PE38. Thus far, IL13-PE38 at concentrations of 0.5 and 1.0 ug/mL appear to be most cytotoxic. Tumor specimens in two patients treated pre-operatively with 0.5 ug/mL revealed regional necrosis in an ovoid zone extending 1-2 cm from the catheter, consistent with drug effect. The findings from the ongoing trial were presented at the CNS Section on Tumors Fifth Biennial Satellite Symposium in Chicago.
Orchid BioSciences Inc., of Princeton, N.J., launched its SNPware 384 kit for medium- to high-throughput SNP genotyping applications. The kit incorporates Orchid’s SNP-IT genotyping technology in a standard 384-well plate format that can be used with Orchid’s SNPstream 25K system or by using 384-well plate robotic liquid handlers. The kit was launched this week at the annual HUGO International Human Genome Meeting in Shanghai, China.
Orion Corp., of Espoo, Finland, and Quintiles Transnational Corp., of Research Triangle Park, N.C., signed a letter of intent to form a drug development venture to develop a portfolio of selected products in Phases I, II and III from Orion Pharma, the pharmaceutical division of Orion Corp. Orion and Quintiles will have a noncontrolling minority interest in the new company, and plan to offer a majority ownership to outside investors. The companies selected a portfolio of drug candidate projects from the research and development project portfolio of Orion Pharma and will seek capital investment to structure the company financially.
Prolinx Inc., of Bothell, Wash., signed a co-development agreement with BioDiscovery Inc., of Marina Del Rey, Calif. The companies will collaborate to develop optimized software solutions for the analysis of protein microarrays. Prolinx develops, manufactures and markets tools, applications and systems for the manipulation of macromolecules. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Pyrosequencing AB, of Uppsala, Sweden, said it launched the PSQ HS 96A System. The system reduces costs for accurate single nucleotide polymorphism and mutation analysis, the company said.
SciClone Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Mateo, Calif., said the first patients have been enrolled in its U.S. Phase III hepatitis C trial of Zadaxin. The trial is enrolling patients who have not responded to previous therapy with either interferon or interferon plus ribavirin. Zadaxin is being administered with Pegasys (pegylated alpha interferon, made by F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd., of Basel, Switzerland) or placebo. The trials are designed to show a significant sustained response in nonresponder patients.
Varian Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif., introduced its LC-NMR-MS system. The system combines three Varian technologies liquid chromatography, nuclear magnetic resonance and mass spectrometry. It is designed to separate, identify and quantify molecules produced through biological processes.
Vical Inc., of San Diego, received a $1 million payment from Merial, a joint venture between Merck & Co. Inc., of Whitehouse Station, N.J., and Aventis SA, of Frankfurt, Germany. The payment is for the exercise of options under a 1995 agreement for veterinary preventive infectious disease vaccines. To date, Vical has received $7 million from Merial under the agreement. Vical, is focused on the development of pharmaceutical candidates based on its gene delivery technology.
VistaGen Therapeutics Inc., of Burlingame, Calif., signed a collaborative research agreement with Novartis AG, of Basel, Switzerland, to evaluate VistaGen’s murine stem cell-based Genesis Screen technology in selected organ systems for use in the discovery-phase assessment of toxicities and efficacy of selected Novartis candidates. The Genesis Screen technology is expected to enable pharmaceutical companies to deploy clinically predictive in vitro tools for assessment of the safety and efficacy of drug candidates. Financial terms were not disclosed.