Alfacell Corp., of Bloomfield, N.J., presented results confirming that Onconase inhibits the replication of the HIV virus and other viruses in laboratory studies. The results were presented during the congress of the German Society for Virology. Onconase (ranpirnase) is a ribonuclease anticancer drug developed from the eggs of Rana pipiens. Ribonuclease enzymes degrade RNA and interrupt protein synthesis, resulting in the inhibition of cell growth and the induction of apoptosis.
Biacore International AB, of Uppsala, Sweden, said new data demonstrate proof of principle of its surface plasmon resonance array chip technology in relevant biological applications. The technology, which is expected to increase the number of detailed biological evaluations in drug discovery, is being developed in collaboration with pharmaceutical companies including Millennium Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass. Using a prototype instrument, scientists at Millennium were able to reproducibly immobilize multiple biomarker binders and test them against multiple samples on an array platform.
Bionomics Ltd., of Adelaide, Australia, opened a $6.3 million global headquarters and research facility that was built by the South Australian government. The company now has 44 staff members in the 2,400-square-meter facility. Last month, Bionomics announced a joint effort with Genmab A/S, of Copenhagen, Denmark, to create and develop fully human antibodies to angiogenesis targets developed by Bionomics.
Crucell NV, of Leiden, the Netherlands, and Rhein Biotech NV, of Maastrict, the Netherlands, converted their research collaboration into a commercial license agreement, in which Crucell’s PER.C6 cell line will be used by Rhein Biotech for the development and manufacturing of a vaccine against Japanese Encephalitis. The agreement builds on the joint research program performed at Rhein Biotech’s subsidiary, GreenCross Vaccine Corp. PER.C6 is a human cell platform for the development and manufacturing of biopharmaceutical products such as antibodies, proteins and vaccines.
Dyax Corp., of Cambridge, Mass., said it has more than 60 licenses in its phage display patent portfolio. Phage display is used to identify a range of compounds with the potential to treat diseases, and it has been used in diagnostic imaging, the development of research reagents and in purifying and manufacturing biopharmaceuticals and chemicals.
Epidauros Biotechnologie AG, of Bernried, Germany, signed a cooperation agreement with Pharmacia Corp., of Peapack, N.J., that expands the scope of an initial agreement signed between the companies in August. Epidauros provides Pharmacia with pharmacogenetic testing and analytical services to support Pharmacia’s clinical development programs. The expanded three-year agreement gives Pharmacia access to Epidauros’ pharmacogenetic technology and expertise for a number of Pharmacia research projects related to variable drug responses. In addition to up-front and milestone payments, Epidauros will receive royalties on new drugs that indicate the use of a pharmacogenetic test derived from the joint research.
GenVec Inc., of Gaithersburg, Md., completed patient accrual in its Phase Ib dose-escalation trial for TNFerade in solid tumors. A total of 26 patients with solid tumors were enrolled at five dose levels. Tumors studied were from a variety of cancers including pancreatic, head and neck, rectal, colon, breast and lung cancer. Four out of seven, or 57 percent, of patients with refractory cancers demonstrated objective tumor responses when given low doses of TNFerade during their standard radiation therapy.
Hollis-Eden Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, initiated a Phase I/II trial with subcutaneously administered HE2200, designed to assess the ability of the investigational compound to potentiate the immune response in elderly patients receiving a hepatitis B vaccine series. Efficacy will be determined by measuring the hepatitis B antibody titers of the treatment group vs. the placebo group after the second vaccination.
InterMune Inc., of Brisbane, Calif., and Mondobiotech SA, of Lugano, Switzerland, entered an agreement under which the companies will collaborate on the research and development of Actimmune (interferon gamma-ab) for asthma, and evaluate other possible therapeutics for pulmonary diseases. The companies also announced they have begun enrolling patients in a Phase II study of interferon gamma-1b for asthma in Europe. Financial terms were not disclosed. InterMune will provide funding and development support for a Phase II pilot study in asthma of 40 patients randomized to treatment with interferon gamma-1b or placebo. The agreement also calls for InterMune to take a noncontrolling equity stake in Mondobiotech in exchange for a patent license that covers the use of Interferon gamma-1b for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis in certain European countries and for bronchial asthma.
Molecular Mining Corp., of Cambridge, Mass., opened its new business headquarters in Cambridge. The location will house the company’s worldwide sales, marketing and business development executive staff, as well as become the home of the U.S. domestic sales team.
Orphan Medical Inc., of Minneapolis, said the FDA issued an approvable letter for Xyrem (sodium oxybate) oral solution as a treatment for cataplexy, a sudden loss of muscle tone associated with narcolepsy. The letter requires, as a condition of final approval, that Orphan Medical clarify certain respiratory data and submit satisfactory final labeling and promotional materials. It also requires additional clinical trial site review. Orphan Medical said it likely could provide a complete response to the respiratory and labeling issues in the approvable letter within 30 days.
Peplin Biotech Ltd., of Brisbane, Australia, undertook a new initiative to broaden its research pipeline for anticancer drugs. The company appointed Lyndell Kelly, a Brisbane-based oncologist, as chief consultant to a new project to develop and test small-molecule drugs that Kelly identified as having particular promise against the clinically difficult targets of pancreatic cancer and pancreatitis.
Proneuron Biotechnologies Inc., of Los Angeles, dosed its targeted eight patients for its Phase I trial of activated autologous macrophage therapy for acute complete spinal cord injury. Follow-up of each patient continues for one year. The trial of the therapy began in 2000 under an investigational new drug authorization from the FDA and the Israeli Ministry of Health.
XenoPort Inc., of Santa Clara, Calif., received a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research grant awarded by the National Institutes of Health, of Bethesda, Md. The grant provides XenoPort with $144,900 over a six-month period to support development of new methods for identifying transcytosis pathways to be used in improving the oral absorption of certain drugs. XenoPort said many drugs and drug candidates are poorly absorbed when taken orally, and methods for improving oral delivery are often inadequate. The company plans to address this by employing a new method for displaying synthetic molecules on phage particles.