Alchemia Pty Ltd., of Brisbane, Australia, and Euroscreen SA, of Brussels, Belgium, entered into a collaboration to identify new compounds for a variety of G protein-coupled receptor research targets. The collaboration will combined Alchemia’s Versatile Assembly on Sugar Templates chemistry platform with Euroscreen’s AequoScreen cell-based assay technology to develop new drug candidates.
Atrix Laboratories Inc., of Fort Collins, Colo., reported results from the first Phase III study of Atrisone, dapsone topical gel, for the treatment of acne. Atrisone was found to be statistically superior to vehicle on all four primary efficacy endpoints and both secondary efficacy endpoints. Atrix is a specialty pharmaceutical company focused on drug delivery.
Cambridge Antibody Technology Group plc, of Melbourn, UK, said it extended its offer to acquire all of the outstanding common shares of Drug Royalty Corp. to April 26. (See BioWorld Today, March 12, 2002.)
Cephalon Inc., of West Chester, Pa., filed a marketing authorization application in the UK to expand the label of Provigil (modafinil) to treat excessive daytime sleepiness in patients with obstructive sleep apnea. Provigil was launched in March 1998 in the UK for the treatment of narcolepsy. The application also requests authorization to market the 200-mg dosage form of Provigil in the UK. Provigil is approved in several countries for the treatment of excessive daytime sleepiness associated with narcolepsy.
CuraGen Corp., of New Haven, Conn., adopted a stockholders rights plan designed to protect the long-term interests of CuraGen and its stockholders in the event of an unsolicited takeover attempt. The plan was not adopted in response to any present effort to acquire CuraGen, the company said.
Immtech International Inc., of Vernon Hills, Ill., said the FDA approved the export of DB289 to the Democratic Republic of Congo. DB289 has shown efficacy against African sleeping sickness, Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia and other infectious diseases. The approval enables Immtech to open a second site in the Congo and to increase the enrollment of patients in its Phase II trial for African sleeping sickness. Immtech’s stock (NASDAQ:IMMT) rose 47 cents Thursday, or about 10.9 percent, to close at $4.80.
Impath Inc., of New York, said its predictive oncology division signed a six-year agreement with the University of California Medical Center at Irvine to participate in the Impath GeneBank program. GeneBank, a tissue and serology archive linked to clinical outcomes data, is a platform designed to accelerate the development of new targeted therapies in oncology by transforming tumor tissue into information for efficient gene-based target validation and candidate selection.
Kosan Biosciences Inc., of Hayward, Calif., was awarded a $230,000 Phase I Small Business Innovative Research grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, of Bethesda, Md. The grant was awarded to engineer Escherichia coli strains for improved production of polyketides. Kosan has gene-engineering technologies for the manipulation and production of polyketides.
Lonza Group Ltd., of Basel, Switzerland, said its Business Sector Biotec is planning to expand the cGMP microbial manufacturing capacity of biopharmaceuticals. Lonza has committed to a construction of a biologics medicine manufacturing plant to meet the demand for microbial manufacturing services, it said.
Milagen Inc., of Richmond, Calif., said it created Antibiomix, a process to generate antibodies to virtually all proteins and living organisms. Milagen’s scientists have discovered dozens of proteins as targets for new drugs and diagnostic assays, the company said. Through its matrix protein array technology, the company can look at all the proteins secreted in a patient’s fluid at any disease stage and identify those indicative of the disease or its early or late onset.
Modex Therapeutics Ltd., of Lausanne, Switzerland, said its Phase II trial six-month follow-up data confirm the “clinical superiority” of EpiDex vs. the mesh-graft in treating hard-to-heal skin ulcers. Results from the trial will be presented at the World Congress of Dermatology held in Paris in July. The company is concentrating drug production at its recently completed facility in Lausanne. Modex also said it filed in Switzerland to obtain full reimbursement for EpiDex. EpiDex is a human skin equivalent derived from the adult stem and precursor cells found in a patient’s hair follicles.
Progen Industries Ltd., of Brisbane, Australia, and Griffith University of Queensland in Australia, were awarded a Linkage grant from the Australian Research Council to support the research collaboration between Progen and Griffith University. The grant will provide a scholarship for a Ph.D. student to work with a professor on Progen’s heparanase program. Heparanase is a naturally occurring enzyme that plays a role in cancer, autoimmune and inflammatory diseases such arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
The National Foundation for Cancer Research, of Bethesda, Md., and Penn State University formed a new center for metastatic cancer research, working with the University of Chicago, with the goal of discovering why cancer metastasizes or how the spread of cancer to bones can be prevented. The foundation has provided more than $180 million to fund basic science cancer research in the laboratory.
Vernalis Group plc, of London, said it restructured its loan agreement with Elan Corp. plc, of Dublin, Ireland, after Elan chose UCB Pharma Inc., of Smyrna, Ga., as Elan’s co-promotion partner for Frova (frovatriptan), a migraine drug, in the U.S. Vernalis will no longer be required to repay the principle and interest on the loan. Elan will bring forward a milestone payment due to Vernalis under the license agreement and Vernalis will receive royalties at a reduced rate on U.S. sales, up to a predetermined level during the launch phase and early years of Frova marketing. At the end of the initial three-year period, Elan will have an option to extend the reduced royalty period by making an additional lump sum payment to Vernalis. Thereafter, the royalty rate due to Vernalis will revert to previous levels, Vernalis said. Vernalis’ most advanced product is frovatriptan, which is approved in both the U.S. and European markets for the treatment of acute migraine.