Abbott Laboratories, of Abbott Park, Ill., obtained the worldwide exclusive license to yeast display technology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign through acquisition of the virtual company BioDisplay Technologies Inc. for $7 million. The technology will become part of the antibody discovery and development technology platform of Abbott Bioresearch Center in Worcester, Mass. Yeast display technology accelerates and enhances antibody discovery by simplifying the identification of antibodies that bind more tightly to their targets, the company said.

Atrix Laboratories Inc., of Fort Collins, Colo., reported plans to expand its manufacturing facility in Fort Collins. About 40 percent of the new building will be devoted to production, with the remainder allotted for warehousing, quality assurance and laboratory work. The company’s current manufacturing facility passed an FDA pre-approval inspection related to its approval of the company’s Eligard 7.5-mg prostate cancer product.

Biogen Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., said the FDA will convene a meeting of the Dermatologic and Ophthalmic Drugs Advisory Committee on May 23 to review the registrational filing of Biogen’s drug Amevive (alefacept) for the treatment of moderate to severe chronic plaque psoriasis. Biogen filed its application on Aug. 6, 2001, in both the United States and Europe. (See BioWorld Today, Aug. 7, 2001.)

BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc., of Novato, Calif., and Genzyme General, a division of Genzyme Corp., of Cambridge, Mass., filed with European regulatory authorities for approval to market Aldurazyme, an investigational enzyme replacement therapy for patients with mucopolycaccharidosis I, a life-threatening genetic disease. In the United States, the companies have been in discussions with the FDA regarding the filing of a biologics license application.

Chiron Corp., of Emeryville, Calif., completed the acquisition of Matrix Pharmaceutical Inc., of Fremont, Calif., by Manon Acquisition Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary of Chiron. The transaction was completed after a vote by Matrix shareholders on March 28 to approve the merger agreement with Chiron. Chiron is acquiring Matrix for $61 million in cash. (See BioWorld Today, Jan. 8, 2002.)

Cypress Bioscience Inc., of San Diego, closed on a $17 million private placement to institutional and other accredited investors, a financing that was disclosed in February. Cypress’s chairman and CEO said the goal for the financing was to provide the company with sufficient resources to complete its Phase II program for its lead compound, milnacipran, in the treatment of fibromyalgia syndrome. (See BioWorld Today, Feb. 22, 2002.)

Exelixis Inc., of South San Francisco, delivered multiple antibody targets to Protein Design Labs Inc., of Fremont, Calif., fulfilling a goal in the companies’ ongoing cancer drug discovery collaboration. The targets were discovered using Exelixis’ model system-based target identification and validation technology and have been found to play active roles in genetic pathways associated with cancer cell growth. Exelixis and PDL initiated the process of testing these targets in a broad panel of antibody assays. The companies said the targets represent potentially novel classes of proteins and could facilitate the development of important new antibody cancer therapeutics. (See BioWorld Today, July 12, 2001.)

Invitrogen Corp., of San Diego, launched the SureScore SNP Genotyping Kit, which it said is an accurate, easy-to-use kit to study single nucleotide polymorphisms. SureScore uses a simple method for SNP scoring and detection, the company said, so researchers can obtain results without specialized equipment.

Ligand Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, and Elan Corp. plc, of Dublin, Ireland, agreed to convert a zero-coupon convertible note issued in 1999 at a price of $20 million ($24.7 million including accrued interest) into 1.8 million shares of Ligand common stock. Ligand will recognize a one-time charge of $2 million in the first quarter of 2002 and will eliminate, beginning in the second quarter, $2 million of annual accretion from the note to non-operating expenses going forward. The conversion eliminates all Elan-related debt from Ligand’s balance sheet.

Lynx Therapeutics Inc., of Hayward, Calif., and Aventis CropScience GmbH, of Frankfurt, Germany, agreed to jointly develop and commercialize an assay based on Lynx’s bead-based technologies. The decision led to a five-year extension of the original March 1999 agreement between the companies that provides Aventis CropScience with access to Lynx’s genomics discovery services. The companies will jointly own the assay. Lynx will manufacture and sell the services or products based on the assay technology, and will pay related royalties to Aventis. Lynx also will derive revenues from performing genomics discovery services for Aventis CropScience during the development and commercialization phase of the agreement.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers and colleagues said they found a potentially unlimited source of human cells that could in turn be used to grow engineered blood vessels for the treatment of heart disease and related problems. For the first time, they said, researchers showed that human embryonic stem cells can develop into the endothelial cells that blood vessels are composed of. They then isolated these endothelial cells and showed that they form vessel-like structures both in a culture dish and in a living animal. The work was announced March 26, 2002, in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Seattle Genetics Inc., of Bothell, Wash., appointed H. Perry Fell as it chairman. Fell co-founded Seattle Genetics and serves as CEO. He has been a member of the board since the company’s inception. He replaces Charles Waite, who will continue to serve as a director. Waite is general partner at OVP Venture Partners and has served as Seattle Genetics’ chairman since April 1998.

Transmolecular Inc., of Birmingham, Ala., received FDA approval of its investigational new drug application for 131-I-TM-601, an anticancer drug candidate based on a synthetic version of a naturally occurring scorpion-derived peptide known as chlorotoxin. Chlorotoxin is a small, stable and versatile peptide that can cross the blood-brain and tissue barriers. Preclinical studies showed that it is safe in animals and that it specifically binds to its target, a receptor found on many tumor tissues, but does not bind to normal tissues.

Trinity Medical Group USA Inc., of Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., said the Thai National Ethical Committee, Ministry of Public Health, approved an advanced study of Remune, an immune-based therapy to treat HIV-infected individuals. The study, known as IB3101, is intended to increase the patient base that may ultimately benefit from use of the product. The new study will be conducted concurrently with study P2101B, which has been ongoing for 224 weeks and has an expected completion date of May 2003. Study IB3101 will be conducted at several medical universities and government hospitals in Thailand, with initial results expected after 40 weeks.

ViaCell Inc., of Boston, formed ViaCell Endocrine Sciences, a new subsidiary that will be dedicated to the research and development of cellular medicines for the treatment of various diseases of the human endocrine system, with initial emphasis on Type I diabetes. ViaCell also obtained an exclusive worldwide license to three pending patents covering methodologies for the localization, isolation and transplantation of pancreatic stem cells that are capable of differentiating into insulin-producing beta cells.